11 Oct, 2019What Is The Most Valuable Thing You Own?
If I told you that your brain was working six times harder than it did in the past, would you be pleased? Or worried?
In this era of mass communications and 24/7 connectivity, there is a massive pull on our attention all the time. All the research shows that this is having an impact on out attention – and not in a good way. We have become so used to everything we need to know being available at the touch of a few buttons and are developing the habit of checking for emails, social media interactions, text messages and news items on a constant basis.
But this drain on our attention is making us less effective.
Professor Sophie Leroy conducted a range of studies on our attention, particularly the impact of interruptions and distraction. The effect it was having was that our mind continues to process the distraction even once we have returned to our original task. She called this ‘Attention Residue’ and it is one of the theories which show that multitasking doesn’t work.
When distracted we perform less well and we make poorer decisions.
“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
So said Herbert Simon in the early ‘70s. In other words “Too Much Information!!”
He said it in a time when the information available to us came in a daily newspaper, two or three TV channels, a handful of radio stations and the local library. He thought even this was too distracting. What he must have thought of the
It isn’t that the information hasn’t always been there. Leonardo Da Vinci was a huge accumulator of information and in my recent podcast about him I mentioned his insatiable curiosity.
The difference is that everything is ‘here and now’ competing for our passive attention rather than asking us to go out and seek it.
Turn your attention to your attention
If you want to improve your focus and be more productive, here are a few things you can do to put your attention in one place at one time.
- Become aware of how and when you are distracted. What calls your attention away from the task at hand?
- Create space and time where you won’t be disturbed. Use the off switch on your phone and shut down email. By reducing the possibility of distraction you’ll get more done.
- Get to know your ultradian rhythm. This is a period of around 90 minutes after which you need to take a break. Everyone is slightly different so start to notice what yours is – and build ‘downtime’ into your working time to allow you to focus and then to recharge.
If you want to learn more ways to build your attention and focus on what is important in your life, take a look at my free video at https://petecohen.com/coaching/ and learn how to break the habits that hold you back.