Can’t Stop Clicking? Here’s How to Beat “Infomania”
Spending too much time online? You’re not alone — the instant gratification of Internet searches can boost dopamine in the brains of adults with ADHD. Here’s how to break the habit — without cutting the cord.
The ping of a text or a Google search lights up parts of the brain once thought to be ignited only by gambling, drugs, and sex. For adults with ADHD, informational pursuits can reach a manic pitch.
Pat’s train of thought is typical. She sits at the kitchen table 45 minutes before her daughter, Maya, needs to be picked up at school. She wants to purchase a new tablet computer. “Here’s one that’s 2½ pounds,” she says, the same weight, as it turns out, she is trying to lose on her Weight Watchers program over the next two weeks. She heads to the Weight Watchers website to check out menus. “Tablet, tablet,” her mind says. Pat reads a blog about tablets, and clicks on a link about ergonomics. Up pops a desk you can pedal like an exercise bike. Then her phone vibrates. It is the school. Is she coming to pick up her daughter?
“I needed a new car,” Ann told me. Her husband, Joe, diagnosed with ADHD, offered to help. Joe’s online research went on for two months, as he searched for the perfect car. Meanwhile, Ann’s old car was in and out of the shop. Joe thinks that the perfect information is “out there,” but there is no end to the information “out there,” so perfect information is always out of reach.
Limit Your Search
1. Permit yourself to value something over something else, what we commonly call “pickiness.” It takes practice. Drop down your Favorites or Bookmark menu and pick the best 20 percent of items. Or go to your saved photos, be picky, and save only the best.
2. Search wisely. To do that, log on to Google Inside Search. The more defined your search is, the more likely you’ll avoid the digital undertow.
3. Set an alarm on your phone, your exercise watch, or another device. Start an informational search and stop when the alarm sounds.
4. Use the Freedom app, which blocks you from the best-known time sinks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
5. Stop when you’ve met other peoples’ expectations. If someone asks you to do an informational task, know their expectations and stop when you’ve met them.