If you are anything like me, I perform my best when I am doing a ton of different projects at a time. Any given time, I will typically have 6-12 windows open on my computer.
I have self diagnosed myself as having ADHD.
I don’t know if this ADHD thing is a byproduct from hanging out with a teenage generation who is constantly distracted or a chemical imbalance in my brain? But serving in the trenches of youth ministry, I have somehow adapted and become a very distracted 30 year old.
The issue is that we (youth pastors) are subjects to multiple streams of digital information that is always demanding attention and time. The constant overflow of information is overwhelming which causes us youth workers not to focus. 21st century media theorist, Katherine Hayles (Duke professor), is noticing a cultural shift from deep focus (spend a lot of time on a few things) towards hyper attention (spend shorter time on a lot of things). The ditigal age moves fast and if you cannot keep up you will be in trouble.
Thus, in the digital age, those who can effectively manage multiple information streams will win. Those that can masterly and rapidly switch focus between different tasks will become the Rulers of the digital age.
Why? Because these hyper attention peeps are not only quickly processing information but are able to quickly retain and store it and move on. And I believe that youth workers will need to lead the way by teaching other adults how to function in the distracted digital age.
– create high stimuli and aesthetic work environments. my point: change the stimulation when changing tasks. your work space needs to consider your sensory or else you are going to become bored and unproductive. what you listen to, see and feel in your work space will help or hinder your hyper attention. for me i use noise canceling headphones when I need to focus. when i need to be creative i put myself in a space that has motion and music the moves me to create.
– use energy stimulants to help focus. i have no problems using (legal) stimulants to increase mental productivity. i.e. coffee, energy drinks (with no sugar), green tea, Vitamin B, BSN N.O. Xplode 2.0, Ginseng root, Diet Coke and Basil and Peppermint Oil
– schedule times in the day and in the week where you are offline. i try my best to go offline for a few hours after lunch and on Sundays.
– utilize online storage to manage the high streams of content and info. the goal is find great info/media and store it so you can not only go back to it but use it later. I.E Sugarsync, Mypcbackup, ADrive, Just Cloud, iCloud, MobileMe, dropbox and Evernote
– carry around a little notebook and write stuff down. it is all about documenting your thoughts. when your brain and computer screens are randomly firing ideas, you need a place to capture the thought. carry a notebook, notecard and/or post-it-notes with you at all times.
– get a tablet/ipad. i fought the temptation of getting a mobile tablet for a long time but holy smokes….. it wonderfully captures and stores every ounce of info/medium/thought that i come across. in fact, i have integrated my entire pastor’s library all on my tablet. i can do exegesis, look at previous book notes, watch a movie, read or pull a youth group talk in a matter of seconds.
– use reminders. use calendars alerts, people, alarms and post-it-notes that let you know you need to get a single task done immediately.
– locate your sweet spots in the day. find the times in the day where you are most alert, focused and cleared minded. for me it is the morning. for some of my friends it is the late night hours. find those times and get stuff done—fast.
Do you agree with Katherine Hayles that culture is moving from focus to hyper attention? Why or why not. Give examples.
Do you think the majority of youth workers struggle with ADHD? Or am I just generalizing too much?
What are some ways that youth workers can focus while keeping true to their ADHD tendencies?