I Have Attention Fatigue Syndrome


Hello, my name is Glenn and I have AFS, Attention Fatigue Syndrome.

bored man throwing paper in waste basket

Each day I am bombarded with advertisements, emails, phone calls, mail, and face-to-face meetings. Then throw in headline news, tweets, posts, voice-mails, newsletters, webinars, seminars, classes, and radio. Even my dogs sometimes ask for my attention (which is actually rather sweet and probably healthier for me than tweets and email).

The barrage of information and distractions is never ending, many times with demands of immediate responses to even mundane requests. “I sent you a text 10 minutes ago about moving our lunch meeting, why haven’t you answered already?”

While I work to deal with this information overload and try to block much of it, I’m sure I miss messages that could be of value. It can be hard to do, of course, because everyone touts their messages as valuable. In many cases, the value is for the creator of the messages, not so much for me.

As a victim of AFS, I have days where I struggle to focus on the important messages, the ones I most need to hear. The information that will help me move forward, not information that is just mind-filling or mind-numbing.

I frequently hear new entrepreneurs explain, “My service (or product) is great, if everyone would just stop and let me show them the value.” But like everyone else, they too resist receiving the barrage of other’s messages. They often don’t listen well, yet want others to stop and listen to them. Seems a little hypocritical, doesn’t it?

I believe most of our communication has regressed to become something like a pre-schooler, demanding attention with no real awareness of the rest of the world“Look mom, look! Look Mom! LOOOK!”

Is there a cure for AFS? I believe researchers are working on it, experts continue to offer tips for improving focus, and laboratory mice are likely now subjected to twitter feeds.

In the mean time, I work to improve my personal focus and find ways to eliminate needless or less important message streams. It will take time, support, and discipline. And maybe a power failure or two.


Glenn S. PhillipsGlenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website, www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.

© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.