I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about attention fatigue. If you can get past the example of the nine year-old daughter and her multiplication tables (some of the commentators could not), there is an interesting premise to the author’s thesis. We all experience fatigue in any task that we do and varying the tasks to which we give our attention will help in minimizing this issue. This concept applies to hunting for a job!
If you are looking for/applying for jobs on a job board, the repetitive processes will begin to sap your energy and attention. When attention fatigue happens, opportunities for mistakes on applications and half-hearted application efforts increase as well as the chances of missing job leads because of a lack of focus. By switching your focus when you begin to feel the effects of attention fatigue – for example, stop applying for jobs online and begin conducting industry research – you return to the original task (at a later time) more productive than if one had tried to “plow through”.
The author does not endorse multi-tasking, instead favoring giving your full attention to a single project for a specific period of time and moving to another project when attention fatigue begins. Give your full attention to a task until you can no longer give 100%. It is then time to move on to another productive activity; plan to return to the original task to ensure it is completed within the required time frame. Although not mentioned, but addressed in the comment section, the author is not suggesting that when one begins to lose focus that the individual replace the work task with distractions like surfing the web, video games, personal emails/calls, and other non-work items.
So if you are still reading this blog entry and attention fatigue has not set in, try this approach the next time you have multiple tasks to accomplish. Schedule the projects so as to keep you fresh and focused when applying for jobs, researching companies/industries, networking, preparing for interviews, etc. Less chance of being distracted by random, shiny objects.
Oh look, a dime……