TRANSFORMING MID-LEVEL PROFESSIONALS INTO CONFIDENT COMMUNICATORS AND LEADERS

Fractured Focus is a Choice
Published 01 March 2022
Fractured Focus is a Choice | Amy Jackson - Nurturing Confidence
I consistently hear from my clients that when working in the virtual environment they feel their focus is constantly fractured.

They are interrupted, even while in meetings, they have notifications happening on multiple channels and platforms as well as phones (and kids / pets / delivery folk!) grabbing their attention at the same time. It’s exhausting. It feels like they don’t achieve anything in the day and it’s frustrating.

And it is. This fractured focus is dreadful for productivity and well-being.

Despite what we think, our brain doesn’t multi-task. It constantly switches focus from one thing to the next. Every time you switch focus, it ditches all the thinking pathways you had open, opens up the new ones, and then lets them all go when you switch focus once again. Next time you go back to the initial focus, it’s like the brain has to try to unravel all the dropped threads to pick up the right one again. As you do this repeatedly all day, the time taken to find the right thread, and figure out where you were and what’s next on that pathway takes longer, and drains more energy. So we really are exhausting our brains through this fractured focus approach to our work.

And I think it’s a choice.

I know, if you’re in the middle of this feeling right now, a little bit of you (possibly a lot!) wants to shout at me – I DO NOT CHOOSE THIS!!! That’s OK, it’s hard to see it.
When we are stuck in this way of working, we don’t have access to enough metacognition, enough of our ‘thinking about our thinking’ capabilities, to see how we can lead ourselves out of this situation. It feels impossible, like it’s happening to us, like there’s no other way. And our brain gets totally stuck in that loop.

So how is it a choice?!

When we are working in this fractured way, we have let go of our boundaries.

  • We are not working with people to figure out what is and isn’t OK about communicating with each other in the virtual context.
  • We are instantly answering questions when we could say, not now.
  • We are jumping to be available or present all the time in ways that we would never choose in real life (IRL)!
  • We are not leading ourselves or the people around us in ways that support effective communication, leadership or work.

When I am coaching someone in their workplace, we book a quiet room and people respect that it would be inappropriate to keep knocking on the window and saying, can you just….? That sort of interruption is usually reserved for the assistants of senior leaders in real emergencies. And yet in the virtual environment, for so many of my clients, they are constantly asked questions and expected to provide immediate responses whilst they are in that same session. This same practise is happening all day every day in lots of workplaces.

If yours is one, please choose to step up to leading a way out of this, for everyone’s sake!

Bring your people together and talk about the impact this way of working is having on everyone. Explore what would work better - what more respectful communication looks like in this environment. Ask what are the ways in which we show each other respect in the physical realm that we need to find alternatives for in the virtual world? In this way we can lead ourselves through establishing boundaries and creating space to think and perform at our best. We lead our teams through strengthening relationships as the boundaries cultivate more respect and more thoughtful rather than frazzled communication.

The teams that have done this well over the last couple of years are now thriving!

They feel connected with each other and their leaders - some of them more than they ever have before. They are aware of what everyone is up to and the progress they are making, and they have space to choose focus that supports both their productivity and well-being. If you’re not there yet and you are frazzled by your fractured focus –

  • start with a real conversation,
  • set some boundaries, and
  • breathe a sigh of relief as you pause a moment to hear yourself think once again!
Fractured Focus is a Choice
Published 01 March 2022
I consistently hear from my clients that when working in the virtual environment they feel their focus is constantly fractured.

They are interrupted, even while in meetings, they have notifications happening on multiple channels and platforms as well as phones (and kids / pets / delivery folk!) grabbing their attention at the same time. It’s exhausting. It feels like they don’t achieve anything in the day and it’s frustrating.

And it is. This fractured focus is dreadful for productivity and well-being.

Despite what we think, our brain doesn’t multi-task. It constantly switches focus from one thing to the next. Every time you switch focus, it ditches all the thinking pathways you had open, opens up the new ones, and then lets them all go when you switch focus once again. Next time you go back to the initial focus, it’s like the brain has to try to unravel all the dropped threads to pick up the right one again. As you do this repeatedly all day, the time taken to find the right thread, and figure out where you were and what’s next on that pathway takes longer, and drains more energy. So we really are exhausting our brains through this fractured focus approach to our work.

And I think it’s a choice.

I know, if you’re in the middle of this feeling right now, a little bit of you (possibly a lot!) wants to shout at me – I DO NOT CHOOSE THIS!!! That’s OK, it’s hard to see it.
When we are stuck in this way of working, we don’t have access to enough metacognition, enough of our ‘thinking about our thinking’ capabilities, to see how we can lead ourselves out of this situation. It feels impossible, like it’s happening to us, like there’s no other way. And our brain gets totally stuck in that loop.

So how is it a choice?!

When we are working in this fractured way, we have let go of our boundaries.

  • We are not working with people to figure out what is and isn’t OK about communicating with each other in the virtual context.
  • We are instantly answering questions when we could say, not now.
  • We are jumping to be available or present all the time in ways that we would never choose in real life (IRL)!
  • We are not leading ourselves or the people around us in ways that support effective communication, leadership or work.

When I am coaching someone in their workplace, we book a quiet room and people respect that it would be inappropriate to keep knocking on the window and saying, can you just….? That sort of interruption is usually reserved for the assistants of senior leaders in real emergencies. And yet in the virtual environment, for so many of my clients, they are constantly asked questions and expected to provide immediate responses whilst they are in that same session. This same practise is happening all day every day in lots of workplaces.

If yours is one, please choose to step up to leading a way out of this, for everyone’s sake!

Bring your people together and talk about the impact this way of working is having on everyone. Explore what would work better - what more respectful communication looks like in this environment. Ask what are the ways in which we show each other respect in the physical realm that we need to find alternatives for in the virtual world? In this way we can lead ourselves through establishing boundaries and creating space to think and perform at our best. We lead our teams through strengthening relationships as the boundaries cultivate more respect and more thoughtful rather than frazzled communication.

The teams that have done this well over the last couple of years are now thriving!

They feel connected with each other and their leaders - some of them more than they ever have before. They are aware of what everyone is up to and the progress they are making, and they have space to choose focus that supports both their productivity and well-being. If you’re not there yet and you are frazzled by your fractured focus –

  • start with a real conversation,
  • set some boundaries, and
  • breathe a sigh of relief as you pause a moment to hear yourself think once again!