You are sitting in your office, working on a cost analysis for a client that needs to be finished by tomorrow for your conference call. As you are working, you get an email from your boss—more tasks for you to review. You stop to read the email... and get a call from another client asking for help with their site. More and more interruptions after interruptions. Tasks pile up. More emails and notifications begin “pinging” away. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
I will never forget what my Memory & Cognition professor told our undergrad class on the first day of the semester: True “multi-tasking” does not exist—there is so much about attention and mental processing that people just don’t understand! I was astounded. Wouldn’t you be? On a daily basis, we are bombarded with a plethora of sensory information and details that we must take in and balance in order to accomplish our daily tasks both at work and in our personal lives. But exactly how can we do all of this effectively?What exactly is attention, and how can we be effective in our attention with the multitude of tasks and stimuli that bombard us on a daily basis? In this blog series, I am going to go over exactly what attention is, and how it effects business. I will also share some strategies to improve your focus and attention to detail.
What is Attention?
So what exactly is attention? First of all, there are multiple types of attention. But for now, let’s focus on the overall definition. According to the APA (American Psychological Association
), attention is the “state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information”. Now that we know exactly what attention is, let’s see how well you can pay attention. Click here
for a quick attention test.
So how did you do? How many of the changes did you notice? Hopefully, I have your attention now! If you didn’t see the changes in this video, just imagine what we miss on a daily basis at work?! According to an article by Entrepreneur
, researchers from Michigan State University and the U.S Naval Research Laboratory discovered that an interruption averaging 2.8 seconds can double your risk of error. If the interruption lasts for approximately 4.4 seconds, then you can triple the chance of a mistake.
How often do you receive short interruptions during your work day? I think we can confidently say that these interruptions can have some serious implications on our daily work product. It is difficult to have a “focused awareness” and an “eye for detail” with various interruptions throughout the day, and not make mistakes. But we cannot simply ignore the multitude of emails and notifications! In my next blog, I am going to delve into the various effects that attention can have in our businesses and also some techniques you can implement to improve your “focused awareness”.