Where is your attention?

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21st April 2017

A few weeks ago I wrote about the topic of positivity. Quite a few readers wrote to me describing how the article had prompted them to realise that they had let their work persona (which required a degree of critique or negativity) spill into their personal life.

Firstly, thank you to those who contact me. It’s nice to know that the articles have prompted reflection…. which is the purpose of my writing.

Secondly, this prompted me to think about a model that I learnt about years ago when I worked in Boots.  All credit goes to Boots and their trainers for this concept. I have found it immensely helpful … not just in my own experience but also in coaching others. The model is simple but profound. When it was first presented to me it was in the format of an exercise which worked very effectively, so I thought it best to go straight to the heart of the matter and make this week’s blog more activity focused.

 

Reflection time

 

Think about a typical day of activity – whether that involves spending time at home, in the workplace or somewhere else. In particular, think about how you start the day. What are the things that are on your mind as you plan the day ahead? Write a list of the things on which you generally focus your attention. You might already do this by having a “To Do” list at the start of the day. If so, what does a general “To Do” list look like?

Now – Let’s look at your list and start categorising, using the diagram below, which you can print out to help visualise where your attention is focused.

Firstly, ask yourself: How many of the things on my list are about the things I have to do? Jobs that need to be completed? Issues that need to be resolved? Write these into the section marked It in the diagram above.

Secondly, ask yourself: How many of the things on my list are about the people around me? People I need to meet? Calls I must make? People with whom I work or engage? Write these into the section marked Us in the diagram above.

Finally, ask yourself: How many of the things on my list are about me? How I look after myself? How I plan to manage my own energy levels? How I maintain my motivation or interest? How I manage my emotions, particularly in the face of situations that may cause stress? Write these into the section marked Me in the diagram above.

Now, look at the balance between each of the three categories (Me, Us, It) that you have created. Where is the focus of your attention? When this concept was introduced to me, it was explained that we are at our best when we pay attention to all three aspects of our day. If you fail to pay enough attention to any one of the areas, you end up with an imbalance that makes life more difficult. Often people tend to focus largely on the It in their life (ie the jobs that need to be done), to the detriment of considering their own well-being or how they interact with the people around them.

If you have a good balance across all three areas, well done. Give yourself a pat on the back! If you end up with a skewed focus across the three areas there’s lots you can do to achieve a better balance. Some of the previous posts, such as What’s Stopping You?What’s your Purpose? and Are you Positive? can help you focus on the Me part of the model. As I continue blogging I will be touching on issues relating to the Us and It parts. Team-work is something that many of you have specifically asked me to write about and is something that I feel particularly strongly about, so I’m sure there will be plenty of blogs on that topic from me in future.

I haven’t been able to find an evidence-base for this model, so I can’t provide any links with information to support it. I normally shy away from writing without an evidence base. In this case however, the evidence I have is my own experience. I find this model extremely useful, both in keeping myself on the straight and narrow and in helping managers, colleagues and teams understand the importance of balancing their attention across all three areas. I don’t think we need to spend equal time in all three sections – I think however it is important to be mindful of achieving balance between your personal needs, the needs of your work and the needs of the people around you (your team!). People in new roles (and I include new mothers/fathers in this!), tend to focus largely on the tasks that need to be completed which is understandable when the tasks are new and require a lot of attention. This model provides a reminder to balance the tasks with the other important areas which require your attention.

I hope this provokes some thought and starts to address the specific requests that some of you have sent me. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, by email or via social media. I enjoy hearing from you, irrespective of the route.

Thanks for reading!
Catriona

2 thoughts on “Where is your attention?”

  1. Thanks for this Catriona: very useful and good to have a reminder/prompt about these elements.

    Hope all is well with you.

    Mags

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