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Frenzied executives who fidget through meetings, lose track of their appointments, and jab at the “door close” button on the elevator aren’t crazy–just crazed. They suffer from a newly recognized neurological phenomenon that the author, a psychiatrist, calls attention deficit trait, or ADT. It isn’t an illness; it’s purely a response to the hyperkinetic environment in which we live. But it has become epidemic in today’s organizations. When a manager is desperately trying to deal with more input than he possibly can, the brain and body get locked into a reverberating circuit while the brain’s frontal lobes lose their sophistication, as if vinegar were added to wine. The result is black-and-white thinking; perspective and shades of gray disappear. People with ADT have difficulty staying organized, setting priorities, and managing time, and they feel a constant low level of panic and guilt. It is possible to control ADT by engineering one’s environment and one’s emotional and physical health. Make time every few hours for a “human moment”–a face-to-face exchange with a person you like. Get enough sleep, switch to a good diet, and get adequate exercise. Break down large tasks into smaller ones, and keep a section of your work space clear. Try keeping a portion of your day free of appointments and e-mail. The author recommends that companies invest in amenities that contribute to a positive atmosphere.

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