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Do You Have ADD? Voice Actors Struggle
To Focus Attention In A Multi-Task World

By Terry Daniel

Voice Actor & Coach

Hey look! Something shiny!

Yes, we have heard a ton of jokes about ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder. I've been known to come up with a few of them myself. For example:
How many people with ADD does it take to change a light bulb? SQUIRREL!  
It's good to have a sense of humor about it. But ADD can also be a pretty serious condition.


A client once hired me to do a narration on ADD and ADHD, and I told her it was right up my alley because I have this condition.

Some consider ADD a disability, but in reality, itís a super-ability! People who do not have ADD have the ability to regularly focus on one thing at a time, while ADD people have the ability to focus on multiple things. 

Itís not uncommon for a person with ADD to be simultaneously listening to music, playing a game, texting a friend on their cell phone, instant messaging several more on the computer, all while reading a blog with the television on in the background!    


People with ADD deal with it in different ways. Some need medication. Some need yoga.

Especially since many of us in this industry work from home, ADD presents immediate challenges and distractions.

Below, three of our voice over colleagues share their stories. But first, more about how I cope.


I believe I have had ADD since I was a child. I struggled in school my entire life because it was very difficult to focus, and things in which I would be interested, would always fade in favor of something new and fresh.

In the past year, I have really turned up my level of exercise. Running, playing basketball and working on the machines in the gym have really improved my focus and my overall work ethic.

I feel less anxious and more relaxed. Now, don't get me wrong. I still have stressful weeks where I feel like I could pull my hair out, but it is so much better than it used to be.

My doctor once prescribed Adderall for me, but it didn't really work. It felt like a really good caffeine buzz, but all I wanted to do is stare at the screen for 20 minutes. I know it works for some but it didn't for me.

I have found that less coffee and more exercise has made the difference for me. It's not a cure for ADD, but it sure helps me manage it a lot better.


Following, three voice over colleagues and friends who also struggle with ADD tell their experiences with this condition.

I sincerely thank them for their gifts of sharing this information, and hope that our stories will help YOU to gain more focus, too.

Pearl Hewitt
ADD - where do I start? My motto used to be, "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done!"

Keywords are procrastination and distraction, lack of focus - but also hyper-focus!

I get hyper-focused on projects on which I'm working, so that other stuff - especially in the house - gets avoided until I'm finished.

If you have ADD traits or tendencies, it's so important to get business training on time-management skills. Bad time management will cause:
  • unnecessary stress,
  • the inability to stick to a schedule, and
  • it could potentially ruin your business.

Working with various coaches to learn about the VO business, I am gradually improving my time management skills and consequently achieving greater things.

It's very, very hard to break the habits of a lifetime, but with the right coaching all will become clear and you will be enlightened!

I'm nowhere near perfect, but I'm getting better and my business is now prospering because I'm learning to work according to a schedule, setting timers. And consequently, Iím less stressed!

'm much happier because I can now see the wood for the trees. I could never have done that on my own.

People with ADD have to learn and be trained to be more organized. It's worth every penny.

Laura Branch Mireless

Although I've never been officially diagnosed, I have no doubt I have ADD. It's gotten worse since I've had kids, so I call it "Mommy ADD" - she loses brain cells with each birth! 

I agree with my dear friend Pearl. She has made some very good points.

I guess for me, the biggest "ah-ha" moment was when I realized that working in a project-oriented business, such as VO or video production, is where I'm happiest and the most fulfilled.

It's those pesky little follow-ups like billing and marketing where I drop the ball. Oh, to have a business coach for that!

I have found that using any kind of visual aid to keep me on track helps. I have a large monthly calendar next to my editing screen, so it's in my left peripheral vision at all times, along with a daily log sitting on the desk to my right.

That way, I have a mental photo of what's coming up. Or if there's not much written on them, I know I need to work on marketing. Overkill for some, but helpful for me.   

Mara DuRousseau Junot

I also have never officially been diagnosed, but Iím a firm believer that I developed ADD soon after I became a regular Internet user in 1996. Clearly it's not just my imagination either, as articles seem to abound on the topic.  

Case in point - at this very moment:
  • I have 15 browser tabs open,
  • email with no less than 5 accounts constantly updating,
  • Iím texting my mother on my cell phone,
  • Oprah Super Soul Sunday is playing on the DVR in the next room, and
  • Spotify is playing music.
Bored much? Lately I've been forcing myself to practice mindfulness meditation exercises for at least 20 minutes, and it's definitely making an impact on my ability to focus.  

For more about ADD, visit the website of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association:

Also, for informative blogs about ADD, visit

Terry Daniel has been in voice overs for more than 20 years, today specializing in technical and medical narration. He volunteers his services for ASPCA - the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and is managing partner and creative director for the Voice Over Club, a voice over training organization.
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Comments (2)
BP Smyth
7/30/2012 at 9:37 PM
When I was a young lad ADD had no recognition as a medical disorder as such, It was just simply one having a "lack of concentration". Nor was there any medication for the condition back then. I now recognize that I had that condition as a youth, and I was cured. It only took two trips to the "woodshed".
Maxine Lennon
7/30/2012 at 9:50 AM
Great article - expert 'juggling'- comes to mind...and keeping your eye on the right ball...thanks again...
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