Dispute the distractions from work by other work.

Immediately, it is critical to understand that human attention is in debt, and this deficit is made acute manifold in the workplace, where perpetual demands for attention so deftly reinterprets the omnidirectional clamour as a greater problem of interruption by its running the gamut of necessity.

Consider this: At once, you are but one person doing one thing, or many things if permissible. As more calls to action pile onto your checklist, you are urged into reconfiguring the immediacy of each item to their importance. This phenomenon for being distracted from work by other work is known as Continuous Partial Attention, which is the process of paying attention to multiple sources of information simultaneously, even if only on a superficial level. Though the immediate inconvenience is the loss of efficiency through redistribution of priority, it underpins a larger complication in its eroding of one’s ability to focus, and to manage time desirably.

This is a form of pattern interruption that not only works against peak performance, it is most remarkably a substantial stress fodder that is the commonest reason – via mental and cognitive exhaustion – that most of us operate in crisis management mode towards the end of day.

Acknowledged and substantiated by renowned psychologist Linda Stone in 1998:
“Continuous partial attention describes how many of us use our attention today. It is different from multi-tasking. The two are differentiated by the impulse that motivates them. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more efficient. We’re often doing things that are automatic, that require very little cognitive processing. We give the same priority to much of what we do when we multi-task — we file and copy papers, talk on the phone, eat lunch — we get as many things done at one time as we possibly can in order to make more time for ourselves and in order to be more efficient and more productive.

To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — continuously. It is motivated by a desire to be a live node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter.’

So, is Continuous Partial Attention a good or bad thing?
“Like so many things, in small doses, continuous partial attention can be a very functional behavior. However, in large doses, it contributes to a stressful lifestyle, to operating in crisis management mode, and to a compromised ability to reflect, to make decisions, and to think creatively. In a 24/7, always-on world, continuous partial attention used as our dominant attention mode contributes to a feeling of overwhelm, over-stimulation and to a sense of being unfulfilled. We are so accessible, we’re inaccessible. The latest, greatest powerful technologies have contributed to our feeling increasingly powerless.”

How does this play out with different generations?

“The younger generations are on the leading edge of thought for the coming dominant attention paradigm. This is one of the many reasons why the most successful companies are likely to effectively recruit, employ, incent, and manage representatives from every generation and keep an active listening channel toward the ideas and ideals, and the habits and passions of the younger generation.

When I’ve interviewed 18-22 year olds, I notice that they are often using communications technology in a mode that I call “semi-sync.” It’s not quite synchronous and it’s not really asynchronous communication either. Text messaging is often used in a semi-sync way. When Jyri Engestrom, Jaiku co-founder, demonstrates Jaiku, he describes semi-sync usage patterns. Meanwhile, Matt Webb, in collaboration with Nokia, is experimenting with interfaces that ease the stress of continuous partial attention. Jyri is actively looking at ways to manage activity streams as well as interoperability issues.”

A rare wisdom not observed by most is that attention is time.

Posted by:Debonnaire

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