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Can I Have Your Attention? by Jonathan McKee, Curt Steinhorst

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Chapter 5Focus-Wise in the Age of Distraction

Your people will zone out during meetings, text their spouses, and check Facebook at their desks. Human beings will always be distracted. The secret is learning how to engineer distraction to your organization's benefit.

That doesn't mean hiring “expert” multitaskers or demanding focus savants. It means encouraging and equipping employees to be focus-wise.

And we have to be realistic about what's possible in the constantly connected workplace. Over and over, I hear leaders equate distraction with theft: “If you check social media during work, you're stealing.” Do they apply the same logic the other way around?

Life intrudes on work just as work intrudes on life (often to the advantage of an organization).

As leaders, we need to recognize the glut of commitments and obligations each employee faces at work and outside of it. Your project manager has a crucial meeting at 4 PM—someone will have to pick up her son from soccer practice. Three e-mails are marked “urgent,” but which one really is? Did she remember to DVR the season finale of her favorite show?

A well-balanced person learns to wear many hats. But eventually one of those hats will demand to be worn when another ball cap is already in place. In other words, the more responsibilities, the more chance of bleed-through.

Bleed-through isn't necessarily bad. For example, if your people can text you at home with a quick question, they gain the freedom to keep working and you can avoid ...

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