Competing with a Computer Screen

June 16, 2009

Marty sat talking to me with his eyes on his computer screen and regularly input burst of typing. I tried sitting at the other end of his desk so he would be forced to look away from the screen, but he just pushed his chair back and swung his head from the screen to me until I lost out and he was back to starring at the screen.

More and more jobs seem to necessitate people keeping an eye out for incoming emails or require the completion of a computer form as part of the appointment process. I first encountered this at a specialist’s office where the physician did a remarkably thorough job, but rarely looked up from his screen. Now I see my ADD clients struggle with it.

Some people think I’m entertaining and my wife even thinks I’m funny, but I couldn’t get Marty to take his eyes off his screen. I reminded him that he was not paying attention and he apologized but quickly drifted back. I finally asked him to turn off the monitor while we talked about what to do. He was very willing, but the interesting thing was he kept checking the blank screen every 15 to 30 seconds. That was better though because he would check in with me more often and his conversation was more responsive.

The computer is a huge time safer and it is a huge interruption and distraction. Those with ADD have to be particularly vigilant about letting it dominate their day. A few suggestions:

·         Turn off the monitor when you’re having meetings or business conversations; it’s easy to fire it back up again.

·         Close the email program or set it to not go looking for email but once an hour – you can always manually click the send/receive button.

·         Turn off all signals that you have email and set a kitchen timer for one hour to remind you to check.

·         Move away from your desk when you’re having a business conversation so that you’re not distracted by other non-technological things on your desk.

·         Get a squeeze ball or some other fidget toy to play with while you talk.

Marty came up with an interesting solution on his own, he now takes notes with a pen while we talk; of course he spends a lot of time starring at his notebook. Funny but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much.

Jay Livingston can be contacted at Jay@LivingstonServices.com

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