There’s a lot going on. Walk along a crowded street in downtown Tokyo, bicyclists whizzing by your shoulder, and you'll see how much focus it takes to keep from careening into someone's backside. Children cry out from behind you just as the person in front suddenly stops—now, quick, jump out of the way of an oncoming smartphone zombie.

Later on, at the office, the continuous chirping of ringing phones are amplified by a buzzing broken AC unit. A nearby pedestal fan, meant to be refreshing, blows away your paperwork as your tie pulls on your neck, flapping in the breeze. Making the matter almost unbearable, about every 15 seconds, your phone buzzes with a Twitter push notification you don’t need to read.

Focus, it seems, is a limited resource these days. And it's in increasingly short supply.

ADHD in Japan

We’ve covered the ADHD before. Compared to the West, issues surrounding the disorder are a little more complicated in Japan. Medications widely available in the United States can lead to serious jail time, even with a prescription. Furthermore, it seems public awareness is limited in comparison to other nations.

Recently, The Mainichi Shimbun covered an innovative product created by a 34-year-old man with ADHD. This now high-functioning individual struggled throughout school and his early career and became despondent. However, a new job with a supportive company revealed his productive potential. He has become something of an online guru in the matter, and recently released a multipurpose workbag to help others organize and realize greater productivity.

Mr. Debt and his Multipurpose Workbag

Known by the Twitter handle 借金玉, Mr. Debt struggled since he was a child with the usual things: communicating clearly, getting up in the morning, organizing tasks, completing schoolwork, and so on. Although largely absent from high school, he graduated and entered a prestigious university after rigorous self-study. At about that time, he was diagnosed with ADHD.

As you might suspect, his professional career was getting off to a rocky start. He became largely indebted after a failed business venture left him bust. He formed an online presence at that time under the name Mr. Debt, and amassed a following venting about his professional frustrations. Things weren't exactly looking up at the time, but people were listening.

Soon after that, he began a part-time sales job with very supportive management. He started enjoying work and realized, "If your work becomes fun, then ideas to refine it emerge, too." He began encouraging his online followers to become more productive with simple changes to their working habits. Many took note, even the eyes of a professional publisher.

As Mr. Debt expanded his audience, he began interviewing others with developmental disabilities similar to his own to help them be more productive. It seemed staying organized was vital, and an effective multipurpose bag could help many avoid the common pitfalls, like losing important documents, of a professional life with ADHD.

In short, Mr. Debt's workbag incorporates a few critical concepts: visibility, accessibility, and capacity. Items in the bag are highly compartmentalized and easily visible when it's fully opened. With a glance, the contents of the bag can be confirmed, and any item can be reached and taken out. The bag is larger and deeper than typical backpacks, so it can serve as an overnight bag if needed.

Mr. Debt recalls his struggles and what led him to develop his workbag, “Working now in real estate, and before when I was in banking, I had to write apologies for losing documents. If this bag can reduce the number of workers doing that by even just one person, I’d be happy.”

Online Reaction

Mr. Debt’s motives are pretty noble. Nevertheless, the made-to-order workbags are not particularly cheap. With tax, they cost 25,300 JPY ($236) and are available from July.

Yet, Mr. Debt's Twitter handle is widely popular, so he certainly speaks to a need. In reaction to his Tweet announcing the multipurpose bag, fans were quick to express an interest:

  • "I'm glad this a comfortable bag for women to hold. Also, I'm happy you offer it in soft colors like navy blue and light brown"
  • ”This is the type of bag I really want.”
  • ”It’s really appealing how this bag opens all the way from the front. The designers had Japan in mind.”
  • ”You can tell just by looking at the picture that this is a good bag. I’d like to buy something like this.”

By - Luke Mahoney.