A basic rule of attention is that WE PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT WE ARE INTERESTED IN. Everybody is paying attention to something while they are awake. So the question is if I can't pay attention to WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO BE PAYING ATTENTION TO, do I have ADD? If you can't pay attention, it may mean you are not interested in what you are supposed to be paying attention to. This may mean you don't like your job or you spend a lot of time doing things you are not interested in.
Of course you MIGHT have ADD if you can't pay attention to what you are supposed to be paying attention to. You should get an evaluation that will rule out alternative causes of difficulty paying attention. There are many possible alternative explanations. Some of the most common are
- Not Getting Enough Sleep
- Depression or Anxiety
- Your life is Unmanageable - meaning no one could do everything you expect yourself to do
- Medical disorders
It's also possible that difficulty paying attention may be caused by having instant and constant access to a steady stream of incoming information and entertainment from around the globe, quite literally in the palm of your hand - an iPhone, iPad, cell phone, any wireless handheld device. It remains to be determined how these technological innovations will impact our long-term capacity to pay attention, stay focused and complete high-priority projects.