Continuous Partial Attention

by Dan

Wow, I have discovered that I have a disorder and that disorder is called Continuous Partial Attention! Apparently we all have it to some extent but the extent to which we let it control us differs greatly. Without recognising it as a common problem with a name, I have been guilty of having a rather acute case of it and have been making the effort for some time to get control back.

The term Continuous Partial Attention (CPA) was coined by Linda Stone, a former executive at Apple and Microsoft, and it’s probably best if I let her explain it in this article.

In a nutshell, what Linda is saying is that many of us live in a permanently distracted state. Always wanting to be on the pulse with multiple inputs of information, our attention is spread more and more thinly by emails, social media, tv, work, play, people etc etc. This makes our lives complex. Also, it is widely noted that the most successful people have an ability to focus on the most important use of their time in any given moment, ignoring distractions. So it could be concluded that over-active CPA makes us less successful.

This ties in with some of my earlier posts. By getting in control of the flow of information coming into me, I can calm down the CPA and be able to spend more time in the present moment. I can get more done and give more quality time to my most important activities. I previously noted that an email unsubscribed isn’t just one email, it’s one less opportunity to become distracted and one less thing taking my attention away from what is important. Sure I get a lot of rich, valuable information via some of these inputs, but they can become even richer and more valuable if there is less distraction amongst them.

If it already has a name then you are not alone, and if it has a cause then you can beat it. Via this process I feel I am doing just that.