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What Is Attention Management?

Attention management is the practice of monitoring and controlling attention at individual or group levels. The goal of attention management is to keep people focused on important and relevant tasks while avoiding distractions in order to maximize productivity over time. At an individual level, an example of this may mean developing the skills and focus necessary to work at a computer for extended periods of time without browsing the Internet. On larger scales, it may involve implementing efforts aimed at keeping employees focused at meetings or developing a distraction-free workplace. Most of the applications of attention management are in business or educational settings where attention is essential for success.

The first major aspect of personal attention management is awareness. People often become distracted without even realizing that they're straying from their tasks. Paying attention to actions and looking out for distractions can help a person remain focused on the tasks at hand. If greater personal awareness is not developed, many other attention management techniques will be largely ineffective.

Awareness of distractions is an important part of attention management because, once distractions are recognized, they can usually be eliminated. Those who are easily distracted by the Internet, for instance, can often find ways to work without it. Managing the work environment is one of the most important parts of managing personal attention.

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Many of the principles of personal attention management are applicable on a larger scale. Locating distractions and unnecessary demands on student or employee attention can lead to greatly increased focus and productivity. As with personal attention, many of the issues that distract from attention are present in the work environment. The work environment may, for instance, be too open and social, thus encouraging employees to socialize rather than work. On the other hand, employees or students may need more break time, as it can be very difficult to sustain attention and focus over a long period of time.

There is a range of other possible challenges to attention that must be considered in any attention management effort. Information overload, for instance, is an issue in which continued attention, focus, and productivity becomes difficult when one is trying to manage too much information. As such, it is often better for individuals to try to focus on one problem at a time rather than multitasking. Constant interruptions for meetings or short-term tasks may also interfere with attention on larger long-term projects, thus slowing them down and inhibiting overall productivity.

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fify
Post 3

@serenesurface-- I agree with you. Breaks are good.

I'm in graduate school and our courses are three hours. Some instructors give us a break right in the middle for fifteen minutes which is very helpful. But there is an instructor who doesn't give a break and chooses to let us go ten minutes early instead. But that means we have to listen to a lecture for two hours and fifty minutes without a break. Needless to say, most people stop paying attention after a while.

SarahGen
Post 2

@serenesurface-- That's precisely the problem. Some people don't know when to stop and get back to work. Not everyone is good at fading out distractions when it's time to work. Some people get distracted so easily that they can easily spend a few hours doing random things and not really do anything.

My son has this problem. He's very easily distracted. When he's supposed to be studying, he'll look up something on the net, which will lead to something else, and that will lead to something else. Sometimes three hours will pass and he will not have studied at all.

That's why I've found a therapist who has experience with attention deficiency issues. He is going to help my son learn to focus and concentrate.

serenesurface
Post 1

Does anyone work for long periods of time on a computer without browsing the internet? I have a decent attention span. I can concentrate and focus for half an hour without problems. But I can't deny that sometimes I just need to do something else. I'll get up and make myself a cup of tea, check my email or check out online news papers.

This small break is great and helps me focus again for some time without getting distracted. I agree that spending half the time at the office surfing the net is bad. Those who can't get back to work after a minute or two of surfing, might need attention management help. But taking a break once in a while from work is okay and even beneficial in my opinion. It increases focus and efficiency over the long run. It really depends on the individual and their ability to re-focus when necessary.

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