Entrepreneurs juggle a lot of balls, no doubt. The culmination of the many items that demand our attention on a day-to-day basis and the multitude of stressors that come along with the lifestyle we have chosen can make it seem impossible to focus our attention on any one thing for long.
Not only does this make our lives take on a frenetic tempo but it can also have other, long-lasting negative impacts on our organizations and ourselves. Let’s explore why trying to focus on multiple things at once doesn’t really work all that well considering what we’re trying to accomplish.
How does our brain process information?
Before we dive too deep into the whys and wherefores of attention, we have to take a moment to understand how our brains process information and guide our attention. The dual processing model of attention suggests that our attention is processed directly by the brain into both the Automatic System and the Controlled System.
Think of the Automatic System like your cruise control. It is typically an environmentally driven stimulus-response type situation. These processes, like grabbing your first cup of coffee in the break room, don’t require a ton of cognitive effort. Because simple tasks like this don’t require a ton of focus to accomplish, as they are rote, they don’t interfere with our ability to focus about other things at the same time.
Our Controlled System, on the other hand, is comprised of mental processes that require a significant amount of cognitive effort. Think of these types of activities as those that you might turn the radio down for in order to accomplish them. They typically require us to dig into our memory in order to pull information to assist us with the current task, or activity, at hand and it is during these situations that our brains require a greater level of attention.
Focus has its benefits.
Imagine this… walking into a meeting with a valued client or coworker and being able to absolutely and complete be fully present in the interaction without distraction. Image the impact that might have on you. Your feeling on control. Your ability to make higher quality decisions. Your ability to reduce your internal stress. Maybe even your ability to be happy with the way you are showing up in the world.