Email Overload: Attention Deficit Trait (ADT)

It’s been several years since psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, who has spent much of his life researching Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), coined the term Attention Deficit Trait (ADT). ADT is characterized by the same symptoms as ADD, however these are brought on through an interrupt-driven lifestyle, and not by birth. Many — I daresay most — of you reading this blog will be able to relate personally, or have colleagues who are struggling in this area.

Numerous online “self-assessment tests” exist for ADD. Taking one of these will give you an idea of the kind of symptoms which, similarly, characterize ADT.

As infotainment, pseudo-spam (corporate email bordering on spam), and deficiencies in email etiquette continue to plague many in the business world, ADT is costing the business world substantial amounts in lost productivity.

Consider some hypothetical calculations (plug in whatever numbers make sense in your company):

  • 1/2 hour per day wasted productivity per employee
  • Assume an 8-hour working day — that’s 1/16 lost productivity
  • So for every $100,000 individual on email, you’ve lost $6,250 per year

Whatever way you slice the numbers, this is a big cost.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be blogging a series on “Email Overload.” This is the first in the series. Stay tuned. If you have topics you’d like us to address, email david.sengupta@quest.com. Or post to this blog.

David Sengupta

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