I read somewhere recently that our average attention span is now less than a goldfish. Many of my coaching clients struggle with high workloads and mass distraction. It can make a mockery of priorities because distraction is the enemy of focus. Here are some approaches to help you get the right things done and feel better too.
I’ve written before about our attitude to time and the impact of an imbalance between past, present, and future focus. Living in the present is very much to do with attention. So, the key is to shift from time management to time leadership. That means taking control through better self-management. Managing yourself is about choices and alignment – what we choose to pay attention to in the direction of our goal.
Here are four common states of attention and ways of shifting or enhancing them:
- Scattered – when your attention is scattered with interruptions, unfinished tasks, and distractions. Try these tactics to manage yourself and other people differently. The 7 Ds will reduce your stress. Manage your emotions so you deploy your best self productively for job and career fulfillment. Be selective if you suffer from information overload.
- Captured – when your attention is captured by focusing obsessively on an idea or task, oblivious to the world around you and unable to respond to emerging needs. Get other people you trust to hold a mirror up to your behaviours when your attention focuses on the wrong things. Step back.
- Centered – when your attention focuses on a single task, but productive and efficient because you are in a state of ‘flow’. Identify a priority that is critical and significant for you to achieve. Then use the Pomodoro Technique to enhance your attention for better productivity.
- Open – when your attention is wide and receptive to what is happening in the moment, pausing to rest and watch the world go by, a state full of potential. Practise daily being mindful so that it becomes a habit and notice the difference in your job and career.
“Mindfulness refers to that move where you notice your mind wandered. With mindfulness, you monitor whatever goes on within the mind. Meditation means the whole class of ways to train attention, mindfulness among them”. Daniel Goleman
8 resources for better attention
- What Mindfulness Is and Isn’t
- Rewiring Your Brain Through Mindfulness
- How Successful People Stay Calm
- 7 Ways Meditation Can Change Actually Change The Brain
- How to Meditate Anywhere Anytime
- Increase Your Mental Clarity in Just 15 Minutes
- Multi-Tasking Damages Your Brain and Career
- 10 Time-Tracking Apps
What are your favourite weapons to overcome mass distraction?