Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Are You Paying Focused Attention?

I was off course.

I'd bought two tickets to Top Gun: Maverick for my wife and me for Saturday. I was disappointed, however, that no where in the area were any theatres showing it in IMAX or Dolby, as the newest Jurassic World movie had supplanted Tom Cruise after just two weeks!

On the AMC site, you can choose different theatres in the chain, but my search was fruitless - only small or semi-small theatres were available, and even those were filling up fast. I picked the biggest small theatre I could, got ideal back row seats, and went to bed knowing I had at least gotten us safely into the movie.

Next day, Kristi, who used to manage the theatre we were headed to, asked which screen I got us tickets for (it's a 24 screen theater) - so I went to double check. Turns out I had bought us tickets for the AMC 20 minutes away, instead of our local location, just five minutes down the street. I was so irritated, so distracted...after my fruitless search of other theatres, I forgot to switch back to our default location, and bought the right tickets at the wrong place.

End of the world? No. Canceled the tickets, found suitable seats at a similar time at the close theater, and off we went. Mission accomplished.

BUT - if she hadn't asked, I might not have noticed it until we were already at the wrong place, without time to get to the right one, and the inconvenience would have been far more frustrating to all involved. She told me this situation was a top three customer service complaint she used to deal with before she changed careers.

Bottom line - I wasn't paying attention - focused or otherwise.

Our lives are filled with distractions. Distractions that cost us our focus, eat up our time, and often have a direct effect on our bottom line - be that financial, emotional, or familial. We often justify our distractions - even brag about multi-tasking. But studies show we can only focus on one task at a time - so multi-tasking isn't doing a lot of different tasks simultaneously, but doing a lot of tasks in short, interrupted bursts. Thinking of it that way reveals the obvious potential downfalls - forgotten steps, taking extra time to reset, and even losing track of the end goal.

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Even writing this article, I've been bombarded with beeps, buzzes, and screen blips on my second monitor. That doesn't even account for the distractions of the brain, as I let thoughts about the rest of my day slip in (gotta pick up drycleaning, want to update my gym membership, have a networking meeting tonight, need to get the kids to do laundry and vacuum) - and it sends me away from my actual task at hand. Which was.....

Right - the article. Are you paying attention? Focused attention? Try it. Set a task timer - 5, 10, 15 minutes, and just do one task. (Yes, this is the Pomodoro technique). It's not easy, but it IS effective. Certainly more effective than letting ourselves get completely overwhelmed by everything we have to think about.

Pay attention - and stay out of the Danger Zone - unless it's playing in the right theatre, at the right time!


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