Attention or Distraction – More than just Getting Things Done

A few days ago I posted on Facebook an excerpt from a book highlighting that peak productivity usually occurs in periods of task isolation–where one may focus on a single task for longer stretches at a time. This excerpt concludes that

To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction

Much of this is due to the ‘attention residue’ that comes with switching tasks, we continue to think and process on the previous task for a while before really settling into the new task. So to increase productivity we should be focusing on single tasks for longer periods.

6875893248_07146d1191_bThat is all well and good for periods of time, but what about when you are immersed in multiple tasks that need doing? Well I would suggest that we are often distracted by other things, that aren’t even task related. This second article popped up today and highlights the sort of digital Attention Deficit Disorder that we have created for ourselves. The attention residue that we are leaving behind when we switch from each micro-interaction to another is crippling–sometimes even physically. That article concludes with this poignant reflection:

But this new epidemic of distraction is our civilization’s specific weakness. And its threat is not so much to our minds, even as they shape-shift under the pressure. The threat is to our souls. At this rate, if the noise does not relent, we might even forget we have any.

What is it that you are being distracted by (perhaps even this), and what is it that you should be attentive to.


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