Top positive review
An Invaluable Book of Useful and Usable Coping Strategies, and an Invitation to Personal Growth
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2006
We live in an addicted, overloaded society in which hypomanic behavior has become valued and rewarded. Is this something new, or a culmination of forces that have been acting upon us for centuries?
We have all been multitasking since before our ancestors came down from the trees, but our attention is now constantly being distracted by a host of new inputs: email, text messaging, instant messaging and a hundred other things. Just think of those news broadcasts that since 2001 have regularly had more than one item at a time on the screen. Many of us have learned to give only partial attention to the task before us. The downside of this is that the myth that we can all be competent multitaskers ("Look mom, I can do ten things at once!") is an illusion. If you are only working on a project with 10% of your attention, not only is it going to take much longer to get it done, but errors are far more likely to occur.
Edward Hallowell is well qualified to write this important book. He is a psychiatrist who tells us that he has also been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and he has spent years working on practical solutions for his patients. He then realized that many of the strategies that he designed for sufferers of the disorder could also help people being overloaded by too many demands on their time and energy.
This is a well written book by someone with a personal interest in finding strategies that work, and who has test-driven and refined them in his practice for years. What I particularly like about his approach is that although he offers a number of suggestions for quick fixes, he also goes to the next step, and discusses how being busy, overloaded and forced into ineffective multitasking can present us with an opportunity. It is disappointing how few of those who give advice in books, magazines, on the Internet and on television, ever go beyond the psychological band-aid to developing long-term solutions. Dr. Hallowell spends a substantial amount of time on how to turn the challenge of being "CrazyBusy" into a source of creativity, ingenuity and inspiration. He goes through a series of simple steps that can help the busiest person unpack the causes and consequences of being caught up in a maelstrom of frustrating activity.
Some self-help books are frightfully impractical: a 300-page book on depression for someone suffering from the illness, who likely cannot read at all; a dense 250-page treatise on how to avoid being overly busy, aimed at people who don't have time to sit down to eat, and so on. This book does the difficult balancing act of providing plenty of "meat," while also getting down to practicalities that can indeed be incorporated into the day of a person whose life may have become unmanageable.
Dr. Hallowell has done us all an important service.