Attention Management

Every company and every manager wants to increase productivity. The world is competing for our attention. Constant access to information and the expectations to do more with less overwhelm the workforce. People are easily distracted at work. Attention management allows managers and employees to increase productivity and job satisfaction. 

 Attention management increases the ability to focus and can be done at the individual and organizational levels. To understand attention management, people must know where they concentrate most. Managers are encouraged to deal with their attention problems before influencing employees in their organization.

Most experts divide attention into four different areas or zones. While the names change, the ideas are all the same. 

 Areas of Attention

  1. Intentional
    When working intentionally, people plan strategically and prioritize their activities.
  2. Responsive
    In this area, people are responding to the world around them. They spend more time putting out fires than working intentionally.
  3. Interrupted
    People spend too much time answering messages and handling situations that interrupt their work.
  4. Unproductive
    Being unproductive occurs when people waste time at work. Unless you take a scheduled break, checking Facebook and chatting is unproductive. 

The ability to pay attention allows people to better connect with the world around them, better process their emotions, and organize the way they process cognitively.

We all use different types of attention to function in everyday life. Other types of engagement are required for different situations. When attempting to manage attention, whether personal or organizational, one must understand the different kinds of attention and how each type functions.  

Attention Management


A CEOs Perspective
CEOs guide the direction of their companies. The attention of a CEO will determine the attention management of an organization. CEOs must focus the attention of their employees on ways to drive business and move the company in the right direction. Current CEOs are faced with the dilemma of attracting and keeping employee attention. Understanding the different types of engagement and implementing attention management techniques will allow CEOs to motivate employees toward greater success.  

Mark Cuban tells his story of when he purchased the Dallas Mavericks for 285 million dollars. The team is now worth 2.7 billion dollars. As a fan, he went to the opening night of the 1999-2000 season and noticed the game wasn’t sold out and the room had no energy. He decided he could do a better job running the Mavs. So he bought the team. He didn’t get a big office or desk when he became the owner. He put himself right in the middle of the sales bullpen with a desk and a printout of all their former customers. What did he do? He focused his attention on getting sales. He started dialing customers and inviting them personally to become season ticket holders again. Cuban focused the attention of his employees and salespeople and started driving business. That is the power of attention from a leader's perspective. 

How can you focus your attention on your organization?
Different methods allow people to train their attention. While some of the ways may seem counterintuitive to attention management, practicing them has significant benefits. Visualization may seem like a waste of time when you should be focused on work, but it is not. Each person is different, and finding a method or combination of strategies that work best for you is essential. Here are a few ways to get started.

  1. Prioritize your time
    Establishing priorities shows you where to focus your energy. Preferences should be used to create goals and schedule your time. There are different tools available that will help you prioritize your time.
  2. The 80/20 Rule
    Prioritize goals, and focus on the 20 percent of activities that actively move you towards those goals. It is necessary to focus on 20 percent of our most effective actions. Give most of your attention to this 20 percent.
  3. Urgent/Important Matrix
    We are often trapped performing urgent tasks that are not important. The distracted zone is an example of urgent but unimportant jobs. They may be necessary to the people around you, but they do nothing to help you meet your own goals. Analyze what is essential.
  4. Create a productivity journal 
    Keeping track of how you spend your time and how productive you are will allow you to evaluate your priorities. A productivity journal is a valuable tool showing you where you spend your time and how effectively you use it. 

There is much more to attention management than what I’ve covered here. Take a look at my new course on “Attention Management”. You’ll find you will make great strides in this area of leadership as it can make a significant change in your organization.

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