One evening I was slowly eating my dinner with Heather. She waited and waited for me to finish and finally asked me to hurry up. I told her I was mindfully eating by savoring every bite of the delicious meal she had prepared. She told me to “savor faster.”

“Fast savoring” is an apt oxymoron for our time. We’re in the midst of an epidemic deficit of focus and attention in our society. Edward Hallowell is a psychiatrist and the founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Massachusetts. He began his career treating ADD in kids. He’s the author of 12 books, some of which deal with ADD in kids. They include Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder and CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life. He also published an article in Harvard Business Review entitled “Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform.”

Hallowell has found that managers and professionals in the 21st century suffer from a newly recognized neurological phenomenon that he 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….people with ADT have difficulty staying organized, setting priorities, and managing time, and they feel a constant low level of panic and guilt.” He reports that the number of patients with ADT coming into his clinical practice has mushroomed tenfold in a decade.

Hallowell finds that the benefits of multitasking are illusionary and a big part of the ADT problem. Many people believe that younger generations raised in an environment of juggling multiple technologies at once are better at multitasking. Numerous studies have shown that to be completely false. Stress research has found that shifting attention every few minutes to respond to incoming electronic messages increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which decreases memory function. Studies by Glenn Wilson, a psychologist at London University’s King College, showed an average IQ loss of 10 points among 1,100 frequent electronic communicators who were flipping back and forth between tasks, conversations, and their electronic messages.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to lose 10 IQ points! So I shut off all of those notifications. By point of comparison, marijuana smoking causes only a four-point IQ drop. You’d have to miss a whole night of sleep in order to get to the ten-point drop caused by the technology distractions measured in the study.