Attention Management in the Age of Distraction

Episode 6 October 20, 2022 00:20:35
Attention Management in the Age of Distraction
Kassouf Podcast Network
Attention Management in the Age of Distraction

Oct 20 2022 | 00:20:35


Hosted By

Tara Arrington

Show Notes

The 24/7 information cycle can leave us feeling beaten down and distracted. Principal and Healthcare Advisor Joni Wyatt has researched and delivered presentations about attention management, helping us understand the focus of distractions and how to be more productive. 


Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt

Attention Management: How to Create Successs and Gain Productivity Every Day by Maura Thomas


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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:05 This is the caso Podcast network where your trusted advisors are at your fingertips or in your earbuds. At Caou, we are in accounting and advisory firm with a team of specialists in a variety of industries. Everything from cyber security to healthcare consulting, to everything in between. I'm Tara Arrington, and I'm your host. As an ex journalist turned marketing professional, I'm the non-expert who'll be chatting with our experts, giving you all the tips and tricks you need to help your business succeed. Today we're joined by Joanie Wyatt. Jonie is a principal and healthcare advisor here at Casu. Um, she has over 20 years of healthcare advisory experience, and she also is certified, um, in health information management systems. So welcome to the podcast, Joni. Speaker 2 00:00:52 Thank you for having me, Tara. Speaker 1 00:00:54 So today Joni's gonna talk about something that, I mean, she has talked to a lot of healthcare professionals about, but can also be applied to many other industries, and that is attention management. So what does that even mean? Speaker 2 00:01:07 Well, so, um, it's kind of funny because the topic of attention management came up by accident. Actually. We were working in a mentor session and we were actually doing like self-assessment about the things that caused us to be non-productive. And, um, as we, the, the group I was working with, uh, went through and asked questions, we realized we were all distracted, like email and phones and social media. It's just this constant barrage mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so we started doing this research, and in this research we identified this concept of attention management. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so not necessarily the idea that distraction is bad, but the idea that you kind of have to manage your distraction because we're never gonna avoid it. So it's been, it's been a fun thing to kind of, um, uh, do research on. And then it was even more fun to present because every time we talk to people about it, they all shake their head. You know, we all live in this world of distraction and so it's kind of hard to, you know, you, you really can't escape it. Speaker 1 00:02:11 Yeah. Um, and also with thinking about, it's hard not to think about the last two years for everyone has been crazy, right? Yeah. Speaker 2 00:02:19 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:02:19 Um, so how do you think even attention management, tying in with how the pandemic has been, how do you think that's affected it? Speaker 2 00:02:27 Well, I think during the pandemic, the biggest issue is that we, you know, we sort of changed our perspective about what's important mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and not that, not that that's a bad thing, but the things that would keep us focused on work. Now I think we're even, you know, they, they, they sort of fell by the wayside in, uh, sometimes because we were think worried about things like, are my, are my kids gonna go to school today? Mm. Uh, is the daycare gonna be open? Is there gonna be toilet paper on the shelf? I mean, we really were distracted by these things that, um, never would've entered our mind and certainly would've never been important enough to ever come as a, uh, competitor to our time or our attention through work. So I think Covid introduced this whole different level of worry and anxiety, which in itself created different types of distraction. So the management of our attention was no longer over like this meeting versus this meeting. It was really about, you know, meetings and, but also managing our children and our lives and everyone working from home and being remote. Things that we never really had to deal with in terms of competing priorities. Mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:03:42 <affirmative>. And so I know you mentioned that some distraction is good. Yeah. And also like you can avoid it all together. So what's a good type of distraction? Speaker 2 00:03:51 Yeah, so that's a very interesting question. We, I can't take any credit for any of this cuz it was all done, uh, through a research project. One of the people we actually focused on two different authors. One was Michael Hyatt and he writes a book called Free to Focus gives us a whole slew of tools about, you know, prioritizing your day and really determining what things in your day can make you more productive. It's not really about working more, it's about working smarter. Um, and then Mara Thomas is the other author and she actually talks a lot about the different types of distraction. There's like a, you know, four quadrants she discusses, she talks about daydreaming a lot. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and daydreaming in the past has always been thought of as sort of a, uh, it's, it's bad, you know, daydreaming. You're not paying attention. Speaker 2 00:04:39 You're kind of off in your own world. And what she says is that it's really not bad because daydreaming is a time when you have those aha moments. You know, you daydream, maybe, I hate to say it, sometimes I daydream driving back from work. I mean, you, you, you look up and go, How did I get home? <laugh>? Um, you know, but you daydream and when you do that, your brain kind of has time to come up with ideas. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we are losing the ability to daydream and her work. A lot of what she talks about is our constant stimulation from our phones. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and social media and everything that's around us. And so we never have downtime. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, the times we'd be sitting around just kind of staring off in space waiting, giving us that ability to daydream, which traditionally I just thought was, I'm, I'm distracted, really was a time that was good that we don't get anymore because we just pick up our phone. Mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:05:33 <affirmative>. Yeah. We, we can always have some sort of media, whether we're driving or in the shower or something. You can kind of always have, you're, there's rarely any silence. Right, Right. You kind of have something going on all the Speaker 2 00:05:44 Time Right there. Really, there really isn't. And even, you know, my, my husband's guilty of using, you know, earbuds constantly mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so even if he doesn't, not looking at a screen, he's listening mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there's always that constant barrage of stimulus coming from somewhere. So it is kind of sad in a way cuz I do think Daydreamy is one of those things that I, I kind of look fondly back on as a, as a kid, you know, you would daydream a lot and that's kind of where your imagination came from. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we don't have that anymore. You know, our imagination comes from Instagram, I guess Speaker 1 00:06:19 <laugh>, so I guess, but there is, you know, trying to maybe create some space for you to have those aha moments can actually make you more productive. Speaker 2 00:06:28 Yeah. Yeah. I think it's ideas, you know, it's, it's um, being able to kind of work out problems, come up with your own solutions to ideas that it's almost like your brain doesn't even know you're doing it. That's what she talks about. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's a space where you really don't have any control whatsoever. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but you're super hyperfocused. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So all of her quadrants are based on focus and control. And so we think about daydreaming and what we would typically think of bad distraction would be things that, um, where we'd have no control. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But what she presents is that in those places we're actually super hyperfocused and so our brain works out those mm-hmm. <affirmative> those problems, uh, for us. So you have to, you have to create time and create space to do that. Meditation's probably a good way to do that. Right. Who has time to meditate? <laugh>, I never, I say that like it's something I do all the time. I wish I had time. It seems like that would be a good place to be able to daydream and sort of be focused on nothing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is kind of nice. Speaker 1 00:07:28 So with thinking about all you learned through this research project and through presenting on this and thinking about the problems that not only just come up here, but problems you probably see when you're working with your clients. What are, I mean, obviously you're not gonna fix your attention management issues in one day, right? Speaker 2 00:07:46 No. Speaker 1 00:07:47 But what are a few things that you've seen that you think you can try to incorporate in that are kind of realistic? Speaker 2 00:07:53 Yeah. And I think if you asked anybody what's your thing they would be able to tell you? So my thing is email. Like the email popups are I, I called them my nemesis. They are the thing that you just, I just can't turn them off and it doesn't matter what my timeline is. I will see that pop up and immediately I'm like a, a trained circus animal. I'm not kidding you. I will look at it and immediately wanna check my email. I've done this presentation a few times kind of presenting this material. And it's funny cuz people in the audience after will come and tell me I'm the same way. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I had a, a office manager tell me that, um, that he said he could have a meeting where this huge presentation would be due to his physicians in like 10 minutes. Speaker 2 00:08:35 And he said an email pop up would come up and he would stop doing that to answer the email because it's, it's like we just can't. So I think, you know, to answer your question, you, you really just need to look back at what's my thing? What's the thing that causes me to be distracted? And then in Michael Hyatt's, uh, work, he actually talks about coming up with ways to either limit that or, um, identify it and kind of create some boundaries around it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So for me, one of the things I have not implemented, in fact Margaret asked me all the time, Have you turned that pop off block or popup block or off yet? Or not popup block or email popup mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, alert off yet. And I'm always like, No, I haven't done it. Um, but one of the things I thought about was the email popups. Speaker 2 00:09:24 I think you can have them like set to turn off or turn on at a certain time mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, if I did that, then the time of the day where I know I am typically most productive, I could just turn them off. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then, you know, my morning routine of checking it, my afternoon routine, I could turn them back on mm-hmm. <affirmative> and that just sounds so easy. And it's been, um, four months and I still have not turned off those email popup alerts yet. So I, you know, like you said, it's not something that um, you can fix in one day. I think the first step is to recognize what is causing you not to be as productive mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then figure out how you can create some boundaries mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, around that. And then sort of laugh at yourself when you take three months not to do it <laugh>. Cause that tends to be what happens. But I do think people recognize that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I mean, I'm guessing you probably know what your thing is. Speaker 1 00:10:22 I think email definitely affects me, but something as being the marketing person here, it's kind of constantly checking our analytics. Ah. So it's looking at our Instagram and being like, Oh, did we get any new followers looking at our LinkedIn and saying like, Oh, did anyone visit our page? That never has. So those analytics though, they're very important. Um, they're easy to just kind of keep pulled up, like keep that tab up and always looking at them. Right. Speaker 2 00:10:47 So, so if there's any ch like change to it, you immediately know when you look and mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:10:51 <affirmative> and it's easy to get distracted cuz then you can kind of get, just like with email, you know, you can kind of get in some kinda like little black hole of being like, well why did they click on that page and why, you know, where are they from? And you can keep going, going, going and um, it's, it's easy to get lost sometimes. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:11:09 So yeah. And people do have yeah. Like their own thing. They all to be, they all tend to be similar mm-hmm. <affirmative> something that's just constant that's up. Um, the other concept they talk a lot about is, um, passion versus proficiency. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and the things that keep you distracted are things that you're typically very passionate about but not proficient at. And so, um, you know, you don't, you wanna do those things cuz they're fun to you, but they may not be helpful in your job or they may not related to your job at all. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so being able to identify kind of places where, um, you could improve proficiency or identifying, um, places where you are very proficient to make sure that you're, you're not losing that productivity in places where you aren't maybe passing on some of that work. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and only being selective about what things you keep that you aren't proficient at. Speaker 2 00:12:01 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So things that distract you are fun are maybe you like to do, uh, cuz you're passionate about it, but you're probably not very efficient or very good at it. Mm. Um, I, I do like to do, you know, like I do like to do data analytics too. I do a lot of that and I will look up, uh, benchmarking and things like that. I think that's fun. No one else thinks that's fun <laugh>. Um, but that's one of those things where I will get up requests to pull some benchmarks mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I'll say, Ooh, that'll be fun. And I'm, I'm, you know, I like it. It is fun and I'm not, not proficient at it, but it's probably not where I need to put my time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, based on what I have to do in a day. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there are other people who are just as proficient. Probably could do it a lot faster than I could. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So just an example. Speaker 1 00:12:50 Yeah. So I, I guess you know a lot about attention management that, um, you've kind of talked about it's, it's very personal, kind of looking at yourself I feel like, and figuring out what your thing is, what works for you, what doesn't work for you, I guess when it comes to maybe leading a team, like maybe one of your clients help what might be leading a team. How can you sort of incorporate these practices when you're helping like a team understand what's important or helping them learn when to delegate, that kind of thing? Speaker 2 00:13:22 Yeah, so there's a great um, tool that's actually part of this whole passion and proficiency thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and it's this mindset. Michael Hyatt puts out the tools, um, and I swear he's not paying me, but his book is fantastic. Um, when you buy or when you look or or read free to focus, they provide you with these tools to help you with kind of this ongoing, um, journey about attention management. The passion and proficiency are things you should always be thinking about when you look at your daily task, everything. And it's not like sit down with a list and write everything out. It should just kind of be part of your natural thought process eventually. You know, it doesn't happen overnight when you're working with a team. The idea is that you do that on your daily task. Everybody on the team does that. Speaker 2 00:14:08 And what you realize is this stuff that is, um, you're not passionate about nor are you proficient. He calls that drudgery. Things that are drudgery to me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> might, someone else may be passionate about on the team. And so you can sort of start to sort and distribute and delegate or even get rid of and automate some things, uh, that nobody likes to do. But what happens is, is the team as a whole is more productive and then each one of the team members might feel a little bit happier in their day cuz generally they're probably doing more things that they're passionate about. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, hopefully passionate and proficient. Um, but you're, you are sort of managing the team's, um, uh, attention management as a whole Mm. Instead of just yourself. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but you do it in the context of yourself because you have to think about what things I'm good at, what things I need to be doing and what things do I need to pass on. Speaker 2 00:15:06 And it, it was interesting cuz we did talk about that and I, I hate doing performance. I shouldn't say that, but I really, it's boring to me even though I, I may do it, I think I'm proficient at it, but then I was working with one of the accountants who loves them and so I was like, I'll trade you. I will pull the mg, I will pull the benchmarks and you can do the performa mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so it was just kind of a, this interesting a aha moment that there is probably someone else who would like to do the things that I don't wanna do mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, um, maybe you find that person and makes the whole team work a little smoother. Speaker 1 00:15:40 Yeah. And, uh, definitely a great opportunity like to sit down as a team and, and kind of get to pat each other on the back about different things that they're good at. So it could be a very good morale thing, but also a good way to learn just more about your team and how they work and how y'all can work better together. Mm-hmm. Speaker 2 00:15:55 <affirmative>. Yeah. And I, I, I do think that people feel better when you get a lot done. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I, you sort of feel defeated when you've had a busy day of work mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you leave thinking I've gotten nothing accomplished mm-hmm. <affirmative> today, you know, and you're just sort of on this wheel of work that you're just, nothing ever gets finished. And so being able to kind of arrange your day a little better, um, putting some guardrails around what, what those distractions are mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, allows you to then uh, have days where you might feel a little better about what you've accomplished. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> as opposed to I'm really tired and I have nothing to show for it. You know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I might have checked 400 emails but I actually didn't get any of my projects done so. Right. It's one of those things that I think that if I was able and, and there are days I can, but it's a constant, I mean it's constantly something I have to think about. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'd love for it to be just something that it just naturally came like, Oh I shouldn't have to, I don't do that, so and so wants to do that. So it's just, I'm not there yet. Speaker 1 00:16:59 Well I think it's hard to get there. Yeah. I know I'm not there either, so, but very much just about kind of understanding yourself really like is what I feel like is the big part of this. It's just understanding what works for you, what doesn't work for you, that kind of Speaker 2 00:17:14 Thing. Yeah. I mean it's on, I hate to say it, it's kind of like being honest. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, there's probably things you really like to do and no one who wants to admit that they probably are not very good at or shouldn't be doing the thing they don't, but they really like to do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But yeah, you have to be honest about um, what you're good at and what you're not and then put the work in if you really are passionate about something, put the work in to become proficient at it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's not easy. Yeah. That's also not an overnight thing. Um, and it takes prioritization of other stuff. Speaker 1 00:17:44 Right. Speaker 2 00:17:45 Which may or may not be able to happen but what, you know, we are sort, I don't wanna say post covid cuz it seems like Covid never really goes away. We are at a place where we're sort of stabilizing mm-hmm. <affirmative> from all this. Um, I called it the hurry up and wait, you know, we, we were always, I always felt like we were waiting mm-hmm. <affirmative> waiting for what's gonna happen. I don't wanna do anything just in case something changes mm-hmm. <affirmative> and we're sort of past that. And so it does give people sort of the ability to move back into a place where they can put some guardrails around distraction. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I don't think you were able to do that before when you were worried about things like where their toilet paper on the shelf. You know, it just, those things never went away. But since we're kind of past that some it might, it gives us a better opportunity to work on and increase our productivity. Maybe make ourselves a little happier at work too. Mm-hmm. Speaker 1 00:18:34 <affirmative>. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:18:35 It would be nice. Speaker 1 00:18:37 <laugh>. Yeah. It would be. Well, anything that I didn't ask you about that you think is important? Speaker 2 00:18:44 No, I mean, I guess, I guess really it's just, it's just a matter of if there is, if you're one of those people who leaves tired and you're one of those people who leaves tired thinking I've worked all day and I'm not really sure what I've done mm-hmm. <affirmative>, then it might be worth, you know, taking a few minutes, read some of these articles, look up some of these authors mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, see what kind of tools they have. I was surprised that we actually, you know, when I presented it to our team cuz we it to our team and then other people, some of them have actually used some of the tools mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I think it's for the reason I just said, you really don't wanna feel like you worked hard all day and then it's like, well, I did about a quarter of everything I was supposed to do and a hundred percent of nothing. Right. And so it's moving from that to the a hundred percent of everything mm-hmm. <affirmative> and um, so if you, if you feel like that might be something that anyone should take the time to prioritize in their day. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:19:39 And we'll, um, we'll link to these articles and um, the titles of the books and the episode notes, so if anyone listening wants to incorporate these in their day, they'll be in the episode notes. Speaker 2 00:19:48 Yes. Yes. And we give full credit to them because really this was my research, but it was their work, it was really all of their work. And so, um, I was pretty excited to be able to do that and take something away from it. Like actually do research and take something valuable away. Speaker 1 00:20:02 Yeah, for sure. Well, thank you so much Joni, for joining us. We very much appreciate Speaker 2 00:20:06 It. Thank you for having me. Speaker 1 00:20:09 Thank you for tuning into the caou podcast Network. Resources for today's episode are linked in the episode notes. Thank you to our producer Russ Dorsey and for Caou for powering this podcast. Be sure to stay up to date on new episodes and more information about today's episode by following at caou Co. Until next time, thanks for tuning in.

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