The various tasks we complete each day require different levels of dedicated attention and cognitive control. Some tasks, like engaging in your favorite hobby, may require a great deal of attention but are familiar, engaging, and just the right amount of challenging, so it’s easier to stay focused on them. In contrast, some tasks that require a great deal of attention may be less familiar or are exceedingly challenging, so maintaining focus on them requires a higher level of control. And still other activities may require a lower level of attention or even divided attention.
The definition of attention management that I describe in my book is the ability to recognize your mental state—Are you daydreaming? Focused and mindful? Reactive and distracted? In flow?—and switch to the state that will produce the best results for you in the moment. The quadrants are determined by the amount of your attention that is necessary and the control that is required to maintain that attention.
The purpose of this assessment is to help you more clearly understand the capacity you have to shift into the higher levels of attention and cognitive control and thereby have greater ability to manage your attention effectively.
The Attention Management Assessment will take approximately five to 10 minutes to complete. Let's get started!
1. I let my coworkers know when I do not want to be disturbed.
3. I break large tasks or projects down into smaller, single step activities.
4. When a thought pops into my head, I shift from what I'm currently doing to take care of it.
5. My work environment is noisy.
6. I check email at various, random times every day.
7. When someone sends me an email, it is rude or unprofessional to not respond quickly.
8. I work on more than one task at a time.
9. My inbox or another email folder is a place I store important information or reminders.
10. I read my emails or texts as they come in, or as soon as possible thereafter.
11. I am a better employee and colleague if I am always readily accessible.
12. I get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.
13. Multitasking enables me to get more done.
14. I take regular breaks at work.
15. I am bored by my work.
16. My workspace affords me privacy when I need it.
17. I struggle with low energy.
18. I take opportunities to work uninterrupted in quiet spaces.
19. I incorporate quiet time into my days (such as to practice deep breathing/prayer/meditation).
20. I must stay on top of email constantly to keep it from becoming overwhelming.
21. I thrive in fast-paced, bustling work environments.
22. My job requires me to work without a concrete plan.
23. I use more than one computer screen at work.
24. I keep my cell phone in sight while working.
25. My work space is cluttered with papers, files, books, and/or a variety of other things.
26. My work makes me feel anxious, nervous, or stressed.
27. I turn off most notifications on my devices (phone, laptop, watch, etc.).
28. My job requires me to monitor communication channels constantly.
29. I organize all of my upcoming tasks in a single task-list.
30. Alerts and notifications on my devices are useful because they help me avoid missing something important.
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