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What Is Attention to Detail?

A personal assistant with a keen attention to detail.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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In a business sense, attention to detail essentially means focus that is directed on the multiple small tasks or concerns that make up a larger task or concern. It is considered an asset for employees in almost any field, so many people include examples of their capacity for attention to detail on their resumes. Those who wish to cultivate this quality may be able to do so by making a few small changes to their work routine.

Attention to detail usually refers to concentration on the minutiae that make up a larger job or issue. In many cases, those who have this skill perform better at their jobs than those who do not. This is because this quality can help ensure that tasks are completed fully and without errors that later need correction.

Paying attention to the details can be a major asset in just about any occupation. For instance, a carpenter must carefully measure each piece of wood he uses to build a staircase. While writing up a news story, a journalist must ensure that her facts are accurate while also giving focus to concerns like grammar and punctuation. To keep her employer’s day running smoothly, a personal assistant might take note of such preferences as his typical routines, his usual beverage order, and so forth.

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Employers often consider attention to detail to be so crucial that many include it as a requirement when listing a job opening. Consequently, when writing a resume, it can be important to list past experiences that demonstrate an ability to break tasks down into their constituent parts. For example, a party planner might make a note of the detailed spreadsheet system she implemented at a past job to ensure that each event she planned fulfilled all of the client’s specifications.

Those who wish to strengthen their attention may try making some simple changes to their work routine. When assigned a new task, they should practice taking the time to mentally break it down into smaller tasks. It can be useful to write down these smaller tasks and check each one off as it is accomplished to ensure that no detail is overlooked. After consciously taking note of the minutiae involved in each task for a time, it is likely that a person's capacity for attending to details will improve.

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Discuss this Article

irontoenail
Post 3

@bythewell - It's important in all areas of life really. I think often businesses fail because the people involved didn't pay enough attention to detail.

After all, it's one thing to say that you're going to run a business where you sell cookies. It's another to look at the details of who you are marketing to, what makes your product different and special, what your mark up is going to be and whether that's viable and so forth.

I think all too often people get lost in the grand picture of "we're going to sell a lot of cookies!" and ignore the details of "well, it costs more to make them than we are getting in returns".

bythewell
Post 2

I've always found attention to detail is very important in scientific work. I've completed most of a science degree at the moment and it took me a while to get used to the level of detail which is expected, particularly at a professional level.

You can't just fudge it and hope that no one will notice.

Of course, being able to see broad patterns is important as well, but I find that that often comes when you've collected enough of the finer details to see what's happening.

A good example is in identification of species. If you are comparing two bacteria you really need to note the details of what they look like and how they behave or you will not be able to tell which one is which, and that's kind of an important distinction.

lluviaporos
Post 1

I remember when I was at high school one of my teachers told me that I was very good at seeing the whole picture, but that I wasn't very good at attention to detail.

She said I tended to read ahead and then by the time the class got around to where I had already read, I could only remember the gist of what we had to learn, and not the individual facts. So I was really good at essay writing and not so much as the multi-choice tests.

I've tried to get better at attention to detail, and not skim read when I'm going over a report or something similar, but I do have to remind myself not to do it.

I think it's good for a business to have both kinds of people though. People who are really good at seeing the big picture and people who are good at the details, as well as people who can do both.

They can compliment each other.

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