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The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.Confucius

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Attention, key to performance

Attention, key to performance

Better managing our time is not the only way to increase effectiveness. Our capacity to pay attention and concentrate also has a major impact on performance. How can we develop this ability to focus?


Imagine all that you could accomplish if you had a third more time every working day. Sound utopian? Yet, this is what would happen if we better managed our ability to concentrate, estimates the author of Focus.

Taking an objective look at an average working day is sufficient to realize how much time we spend refocusing after being interrupted. One study concluded, for example, that employees glance at their e-mail no less than 37 times an hour! Not to mention interruptions caused by superfluous phone calls to back up e-mails or by people who knock on our door in passing just to be sure to get a quick answer. Not only is this an obvious waste of time, it tires us out intellectually and makes us more likely to make mistakes and underperform.

That being said, neuroscience studies reveal that these demands are far from being the main obstacle to our performance. The brain is actually able to filter out many potential disturbances. Our performance declines principally due to poor management of our attention capacity. We allow our attention to drift, using it without discernment until we exhaust it and then make decisions on “auto-pilot.” Fortunately, simple drivers can help to apply our attention capacity optimally in order to facilitate learning, manage complex problems better and boost our creativity.

The publications analyzed here encourage us to take a fresh look at how we think about and utilize our attention capacity:

- Manage your attention as a scarce resource.

- Learn to let go at times and be attentive without necessarily concentrating.

- Use your emotions to boost your concentration.


Synopsis n.228b


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