Divided Attention Disorder: Digitization and smartphones make you sick and inattentive!


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The topic of attention is more relevant than ever in the midst of digital transformation: we have access to an endless amount of information at all times - but that is exactly what leads to ever greater problems.

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Barbara Haag Fixed aspect ratio Barbara Haag is a management consultant and businesscoach.

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How multitasking makes us sick

Dank Internet, Smartphones, Netbooks und iPad  können wir jederzeit und mit ein paar Klicks eine schier unbegrenzte Menge an Informationen zu finden. Paradoxerweise führt genau das dazu, dass viele ihre eigentlichen Aufgaben gar nicht mehr schaffen und zu Dauer-Prokrastinierern werden.

Thanks to multitasking, we can process emails in parallel and apparently in the shortest possible time, check stock exchange prices, write a briefing and choose a movie for the weekend. But what about our cognitive skills that have to struggle to keep up with this rapid development? And what can we do to “slow down” our brains again?

Do you recognize yourself here?

  • While downloading a larger file is running, take advantage of the time and look quickly to where there are cheap flights for your summer holiday, and from whom the latest contact request comes with Xing.
  • Traveling on the train at a business meeting makes your laptop limp, your smartphone does not get internet connection. Actually not so tragic; You do not expect urgent messages, and your office knows that you can not always be reached. You could read the book you bought at the station. They prefer to play a bit of Tetris. After each round, check to make sure you are finally back online.
  • At least two browser windows are always open on your computer and there are at least eight tabs each.

Then you may be suffering from DAD.

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What is DAD?

Behind this abbreviation lies a syndrome called Divided Attention Disorder, the latest new addition to the attention deficit family, to which the BBC recently dedicated a contribution.

According to current findings, DAD (presumably) is not fatal or contagious, but it is likely to be widespread in our society and responsible for a multitude of dead hours.

When multitasking makes problems

Because the principle of multitasking is not infrequently a problem: Multitasking is about productivity; it is to use our precious and scarce good, the time, as sensibly as possible and give us so much more of it.

Priority activities will be carried out simultaneously, with one of the activities being more demanding and retaining the bulk of our attention, the second being rather incidental: for example, we have lunch while processing the latest emails.

When priorities set difficult

It becomes critical when we feel incapable to prioritize the information that flows daily to us, to carry out tasks in a structured manner, and to concentrate on an activity for a longer period of time. When our attention jumps from one subject to another in a five-second cycle, we do not work efficiently.

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Our task is not as fast as we had imagined, and in the end we are confused by a mass of loose threads and spend an unnecessary amount of time assembling them.

Does too much technology damage the brain?

No, it is not a matter of radiation, which acts on us through excessive hand-handling. However, our heavily technology-dependent approach involves other dangers. According to BBC, there is a theory to DAD that is quite disturbing:

In the long term, this way of working should lead to cognitive overload and influence our way of thinking. Too many quick and short impulses literally overflow the so-called working memory, the part of our memory that is responsible for temporary storage and not particularly pronounced.

Our attention span is decreasing, our brains are unlearning the deep concentration and linking new information with the facts and experiences stored in our long-term memory. Our thoughts do not mature to deep stored knowledge, but remain confused on the surface.

Slow Food, Slow Brain

But how can you escape the maelstrom of uninterrupted flood of information and constant availability? How to "reprogram" his brain? The keyword is by no means No Brainer, but only Slow Brainer (and that only in a positive sense. Think Slow versus Fast Food). In any case, you do not need a hat made of aluminum foil.

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Accept that just because modern technologies theoretically allow you to be ready at all times and you could do it all at once, you should practically not invite them to do so. Because if you know that you are always available, you will be bombarded with unauthorized emails.


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  1. REGIS GMBH

    Wie Digitalisierung & Smartphones krank & unaufmerksam machen: Haben Sie auch Divided Attention… via @berufebilder - Highly recommended 1T15TXZLHb

  2. Thomas Eggert

    Wie Digitalisierung & Smartphones krank & unaufmerksam machen: Haben Sie auch Divided Attention… via @berufebilder - Highly recommended SlxYOrD29b

  3. Wolfgang E. Benkert

    DAD: Are you suffering from Digital Attention Deficit Disorder? | Berufebilder by Simone Janson via @sharethis

  4. Attention Disorder and Learning »Wolf's PAD

    […] gleichzeitig macht dieser Informationsüberfluss uns abhängig. Ein Satz in dem zitierten Artikel “Leiden Sie an der Digitalen Aufmerksamkeitsstörung?” von Barbara Haag ist mir dabei besonders ins Auge gefallen: Unsere Aufmerksamkeitsspanne verringert […]

  5. Attention: How to deal with digital important factors »netzwertig.com

    […] Bis vor wenigen Tagen wusste ich noch nicht mal, dass es so eine «Krankheit». Barbara Haag hat mich dann eines Besseren belehrt. Nun bin ich kein Freund solcher Klassifizierungen – schon über die […]

  6. Kresse Club

    Do you suffer from Digital Attention Deficit Disorder? #dad

  7. Silke Boberg

    Oioi! There is some truth in it.

  8. Celes

    @sehrunkreativ hat wohl den Grund, dass sich die IT zu schnell entwickelt, da kommt keine Evolution hinterher ->

  9. NGC6544

    DAD – Krankhaftes Multitasking? Wiedererkannt? #socialmedia #arbeit

  10. Lars Hahn

    DAD – Krankhaftes Multitasking? Wiedererkannt? #socialmedia #arbeit

  11. Tanja Handl

    Ich erkenne mich in Beispiel 1 und Beispiel 3 wieder – wobei Nummer 3 beruflich bedingt ist.

    Multitasking gibt es bei mir allerdings nicht – Tabs sind im Hintergrund offen, um später abgearbeitet zu werden, wenn gegessen wird, wir gegessen und sonst nichts, und wenn der Download beendet ist, wird der Zwischendurch-Zeitvertreib abgebrochen.

    Die Verlockung, ständig etwas im I-Net nachzuschauen, ist natürlich groß – die einzige echte Lösung ist meiner Meinung nach Selbstdisziplin. Die lässt sich allerdings trainieren. Ein erster Schritt ist, das eigene Verhalten zu dokumentieren, um Zeitfresser zu finden – wer mehr Tipps zur Produktivitä möchte, findet diese übrigens auch auf unserem Blog Beyond-9to5.de.

  12. Dieter Henkel

    Krankheitsbild Divided Attention Disorder: Leiden Sie an der …: Existenzgründung & Innovation · Zur seperaten …

  13. Competencepartner

    Krankheitsbild Divided Attention Disorder: Leiden Sie an der Digitalen Aufmerksamkeitsstörung?: …

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