Continuous Full Attention is Unnatural

October 10, 2006 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Attention Management | 1 Comment

I’ve seen a lot of posts on Continuous Partial Attention (see Linda Stone’s blog). While I certainly decry the go-go nature of modern life (whether due to those short attention spans we’re supposed to have, being too driven to succeed, or instinctive chasing of new stimuli), I’m not sure recognition of Continual Partial Attention is the first step to improvement either.

While Continuous Partial Attention is potentially harmful, Continuous Full Attention is downright unnatural.  So what kind of attention is the answer?

What is needed is something inbetween.  Having enough control over your environment that you can sometimes give full attention when warranted (giving a presentation) and partial attention for things that don’t warrant it (like doing the dishes) is a good place to be.

The fact that it seems everyone driving a car here in Chicago is only paying Continuous Partial Attention to the road – now that is something I definitely list as a bad thing.

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  1. To clarify, we typically rely on many different attention strategies and match the best attention strategy to our goals and activities. Going further, we do seem to have generations or decades (give or take 20 years), where, while we may use many attention strategies, there is a dominant attention paradigm — a type of attention use that is most prominent.

    There is no one answer. There is no right or wrong. There is pursuit of an ideal with a compatible dominant attention paradigm, an extreme that ceases to serve, a contrast that launches a new ideal and a new attention paradigm (always tapping previous strategies as they serve us). More at lindastone.net


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