SOURCE: Mariposa Leadership, Inc.

May 01, 2008 13:15 ET

Attention! You May Be Losing Your Ability to Pay Attention

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - May 1, 2008) - Our society is bombarded with a constant slew of information on a daily basis. Ad campaigns, billboards, cell phones, and emails, all contribute to high-quantity, low-quality communication. This onslaught of information, coupled with constant interruptions, may actually be eroding our ability to pay attention. Are we entering an age of cultural and intellectual decline?

The real danger comes not from too much information, but rather from losing our capacity for deep, sustained focus -- the kind of focus necessary for critical thinking, long-term planning, and complex decision-making. Are you willing to sacrifice your ability to think clearly in order to sneak in one more email?

Sue Bethanis, Founder/CEO of Mariposa Leadership, Inc., says, "The first step to cultivating sustained attention is sustained awareness." She offers the following tips for deepening your ability to focus on the task at hand:

-- Track your time - See how many times you shift gears, alter modes of thinking, or are interrupted during any given hour. You'll be surprised! Much of our time and energy is spent re-engaging and refocusing our attention once it's been lost.

-- Turn off the gadgets - Pick a stretch of time during the workday to unplug and concentrate on just one project. You can do it! Turn off Outlook, put the phone on vibrate, and finally knock that project out.

-- Bring back the long lunch - Meals used to be for actually savoring our food. Now we're lucky to grab an energy bar on the run. Take time to eat lunch, catch some fresh air, and have a conversation. You'll be amazed how much more productive your afternoon will be.

-- Dive Deeper - Rather than skimming headlines and surfing channels on broad but shallow subjects, pick one theme and go deep. Read articles, rent documentaries, research, and report your findings. Ask your employees to do the same.

What at first may feel like wasting time will pay off 10-fold with increased powers of attention. Where you and your employees will outshine the competition is with the increasingly rare ability to critically think for yourselves.

Susan J. Bethanis, Ed.D., is the Founder/CEO of Mariposa Leadership, Inc., author of Leadership Chronicles of a Corporate Sage, and host of the popular leadership forum Wise Talk.

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