by Todd Mintz September 10th, 2008 

Traduction francaise

“…Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream…Lay down all thought…Surrender to the void…That you may see…The meaning of within…” The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows”.

I remember being at dinner at SMX Advanced with a bunch of people and one of the guys (who I consider a friend and don’t wish to pick on him…but then I wouldn’t have a way to start my story) was fidgeting with his hands in an odd way reminiscent of a smoker missing his pack of cigs. I asked him what he was doing and he told me that his restlessness was due to the fact that he didn’t have his iPhone with him. It was clear that he missed the ability to engage with it at a moments notice, even though we all were in an obvious social group situation.

In our industry, this ADD-like behavior is more the norm than the exception. Those that have chosen the SEO career path without an ADD personality are almost compelled to develop ADD traits in order to maximize career success.

After all, without ADD, how can somebody work multiple open browsers / browser pages, multiple IM conversations, multiple software products, email, and Twitter simultaneously? In fact, a daily search marketing routine involves tremendous number of quick micro-focused bursts of concentration on items and issues, with the SEO needing to be able to immediately perceive the relevancy contained within each and being able to take the correct course(s) of action.

Many SEO brains are predisposed to crave this type of continual overstimulation to the point where it’s difficult to mentally detach from the normal work environment so that even a brief slow moment in life requires distraction and peripheral interaction. Folks, this ain’t good…but why I believe it ain’t good might surprise you.

When our ADD-addled brains are running full-throttle during our workday, we are seeing, processing, and acting upon lots of data yet we seldom have the opportunity to reflect upon all this information until we disengage from the work environment. If we continue this pattern of brain overstimulation away from work (e.g. iPhones, video games, etc.), we might not ever have the necessary opportunity to contemplate the possibilities in what we have learned.

The ADD-afflicted among us know that ADD doesn’t go away after hours. However, I’ve found that during occasions where my focus is relatively undistracted (while working out, while driving, while being around really boring people), my mind begins to gradually disengage itself from the “present” situation in order to spend more of its processing power on working through the problems and challenges that I face online. Since my brain won’t slow down, when faced with the challenge of relatively “unengaging” external stimuli, it is forced to crunch through the large amount of information already contained therein, increasing the likelihood of generating actionable insights into SEO problems. I’ve found that almost all of my best work ideas have come while being away from the computer.

I’ve also found that music really helps me channel my thought processes towards finding solutions to what I’m trying to accomplish. Music acts upon my brain in the same manner as seasoning acts on food. The wonder of aural entertainment is that if I’m temporarily blocked in my thinking, the music gets pushed to the forefront of my mind and it automatically recedes to my background when I become unblocked.

For those predisposed to ADD, you might actually find that increasing your amount of inactivity might actually make you more productive at work :.)

Todd Mintz is a founding member and current board member of SEMpdx: Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Association.

Traduction francaise

Images courtesy of christophe dune and Will Lion

Todd Mintz

Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He also is on the Board of Directors at SEMpdx, runs his own side gigs and tweets quite a bit.


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23 Responses to “ADD: The AID Of SEO”

  1. QualityGal says:

    I am VERY predisposed to ADD, which is why I'm so happy that a bit of variety is built in to my job description.

    But you're right, it doesn't go away after hours. That's something we all have to work out for ourselves, and you're suggestion to unplug for a while seems like a good one.

  2. This post was painful to read…

    Is this the real fate of those engaged in SEO full-time?

    Is the cart pulling the horse?

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

  3. Nick Wilsdon says:

    Good post Todd. Reading really helps me, once the book is open I'm totally engaged with that one activity. I'm not thinking about anything other than the words I'm reading.

    Having that focus again on one single thing is very calming. With a lesser degree, exercise as well. So it's not so much inactivity that relaxes me, by activity focused on one thing without interuption.

    You're right though, when your mind relaxes you can process the information that you have built up – even subconciously. After finishing a focused activity I often find solutions to issues that have bugged me.

  4. Brian Carter says:

    Good post which I know applies to me because I skimmed it and now I'm off to something else 😉

  5. Kristin says:

    Great post – and insights.

    Truthfully, SEO/SEM can be considered an online art if you will. And the process of creating art is know as the creative process, which has 5 steps: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation and elaboration. You gave tangible examples for each of these steps.

    So I guess the real question is, in order to be creative, does one have to have ADD tendencies?

  6. I dunno, being able to multitask with multiple tabs and browser sessions seems to require a long attention span. I would suspect ADD would just push you off track and distract you while trying to SEO!

  7. Metaspirng says:

    It ain't ADD, merely milti-multitasking :)

  8. I have always had this feeling- the more technologically closer we come the further we emotionally drift.

  9. The is the cruel truth behind SEO professional whom never stop thinking about the problems or ideas they encounter online. Sometimes your brain just slip off the conversation between your closed ones and move into the virtual world thinking of better techniques in improving current rankings or authority. I believe this does not just happen to SEO professionals, it happens almost to everyone who makes there living online. – Rif Chia

  10. kouji says:

    interesting. perhaps the restlessness might also have something to do with the fact that while he's away from his connection, his competitors are continuing to build backlinks, optimize, and engage in other activities designed to dislodge him from the serps. :O

  11. The ADD syndrome really hits me when I am in social situations. Usually this is because such occasions are obligatory and the people around have nothing to offer in the form of interesting conversation. I find this happening frequently. The art of conversation seems to have disappeared and I now try and find excuses.

  12. I've got ADHD. (with an H-hyperactivity)

    Mozart tunes are best for me when doing research and gathering data.

    limp Biskit & Metallica are best when responding to hateful onliners..

    Sia is best in personal reflection.

    Without 80 windows open at one time, I'm bored.

  13. Utah SEO Pro says:

    SEO caused me to go ADD. that is a 100% true statement.

  14. Utah SEO says:

    Okay, maybe not strictly SEO but the internet's had huge effects. I am glad I have ADD though because I actually can get multi task better because of it.

  15. Honestly…

    To be completely truthful…

    It's been pretty darn hard lately to see any upside to my ADHD. Pretty darn hard.

    Then again, I am consistently everyone else around me's point of call for the latest info… so I must be good at that, huh?!

    Thanks for the reminder :)


  16. VMOptions says:

    "For those predisposed to ADD, you might actually find that increasing your amount of inactivity might actually make you more productive at work :.)"

    This is very true. Just like eating healthy and getting the proper amount of sleep can make us more productive. However, I need to do a better job at these. :)

  17. rukawa says:

    thanks for usefull trik for seo..i will try trick for your post.thanks my brother


  18. Wii Boy says:

    I am totally the opposite when it comes to music Todd. If I need to concentrate, the music has to go off or I get agitated.

    It's the same when I am trying to find somewhere in my car, the radio has to go off!

  19. Eva White says:

    I can relate to your friend. We went on a family holiday and the only rule was no cell phones. It took us two full days to be at ease without all the gadgets around us before we began to relax and enjoy ourselves.

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  22. I found relaxing or having a dayoff can create more ideas than focusing full-time on a job.