Monday, March 17, 2008

Attention Management Tips

Manage Self
1. Segment your attention and set one specific goal for each segment. For example, focus your attention on driving home from work.
2. Remove unnecessary items from your desk, office, and other work areas.
3. Unsubscribe to magazines, newspapers, and other content streams that generally go unread.
4. Set up email filters for “friendly-spam.” For example, arrange a separate folder for the daily jokes from your brother.
5. Customize the ringtones on your phone(s).
6. Transfer thoughts being juggled to a notepad.
7. Disable auto-receive on your email. Set it to check at specific times during the day.
8. Ask a caller to hold until you can provide your full attention. “I’m in the car, please hold for a moment while I pull over so I can give you my total attention.”
9. Know when to turn off your cell or PDA. Learn to ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that will happen?”
10. Remember to set your instant messenger (IM) to “away” status.
11. Set up separate IMs for your office hours and your personal hours.
12. Remember to set your email to “Out of Office” status.
13. Set aside a specific time each day as uninterrupted reading time.
14. Close unused windows on your computer.
15. Openly state a response time in your voice greeting and email signature area.
16. Re-condition your thinking about responding to unexpected phone calls, emails, IMs, and text messages. Once again, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that will happen?”
17. Close the door to your office or hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your cubicle.
18. Consider mono-tasking instead of multi-tasking.

Manage Others
1. Prepare your 10-second elevator pitch about yourself so you don’t bog down in unwanted details.
2. Suggest when to switch to a different mode of communication. For example, when an IM session starts to become a novel, recommend a phone conversation.
3. Develop a Web site for common resources and frequently asked questions.
4. Close blinds in office or meeting rooms to avoid outside interference.
5. Erase/remove unrelated info on whiteboards and flipcharts.
6. Distribute reading materials after or toward the end of your presentation/meeting. Let your audience know they will receive the details.
7. When using PowerPoint, switch to a black screen (“B” key in presentation mode) when the visual is no longer supportive.
8. Arrange chairs for your visitors so they are not facing windows, toward attractive artwork, or anything else that competes for attention.
9. Keep what they are seeing in sync with what they are hearing.
10. Set aside expensive and attractive jewelry for social occasions.
11. When presenting, remove change from your pockets. Actually, remove everything from your pockets.
12. No heavy perfumes or colognes.
13. Give others time to read things, fill out forms, etc. before you continue talking.

Bottom Line: Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.

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