Advertising
Advertising

Blackberry Slavery

Blackberry Slavery

Blackberry Slavery

    A participant in one of my time management workshops recently shared that her corporate culture has evolved to the point where a manager who owns a Blackberry is expected to respond to email within the hour.

    In a few of those instances in which she took too long to respond, the results was an email to her boss’s boss with a complaint.

    This made me wonder… What happens when an employee receives the “gift” of a Blackberry or iPhone from their company?

    Advertising

    What unpoken expectations are delivered along with the smartphone?

    What is the human resource department doing to create policies to prevent the worst from happening — executives sending messages back and forth at 5 am, or 20 hour games of “email ping-pong.”

    One enlightened company I am aware of actually has had a long-standing policy that their managers cannot send or read email of phone calls on their designated days off.

    Advertising

    Dragging

      Most companies, however, are stampeding in the opposite direction, invading what used to be their employees private moments with a “play or else mentality.” Nights, mornings, weekends, holidays and vacations are now fair game in an increasing number of companies, and the recession has only given companies a fresh reason to turn up the pressure on the lucky survivors of the most recent layoff.

      Of course, neither RIM nor Apple is to blame.

      Instead, bad habits are becoming enshrined into company practice, and the result is a drop in productivity.

      Sending an email entitled “URGENT” has turned into the new way of delivering urgent messages, replacing the telephone.

      Advertising

      The results are simply disastrous, as professionals chain themselves to their smartphones, checking and re-checking their email, just in case they received an urgent email in the last five minutes.

      That’s a LOT of checking for a 1 in 500 event.

      That’s also a LOT of wasted attention.

      By now, we probably have all been subject to “email attention,” which differs from the regular attention that one receives in a normal in-person, or phone conversation.

      Advertising

      We start out talking with a colleague and the conversation goes well until we detect that they have made the switch to checking their device to see if they have received any urgent email.

      Their responses become just a little delayed, and we can sense that something has shifted as they join the latest game of email ping-pong happening somewhere in cyber-space. Whether they are standing in front of us, or 3000 miles away, the effect is the same — the conversation slows down as they hit reply, start typing and hit send, even as they insist they are “still listening” when challenged.

      Unfortunately, it’s fear that’s driving them to unproductive and ineffective habits.

      This is what some of their spouses, kids, friends and colleagues are seeing when they react with a shake of the head, and words like “addicted” and “Crackberry” are muttered just outside earshot.

      A few have seen the light and are returning, losing, and even breaking their companies’ Blackberry’s and iPhones.

      Even fewer are confronting the culture of fear and intimidation that has subtly being created with the aid of this new technology. It takes courage to say no to bad habits, no matter how wide-spread they are. It takes a clear mind to say yes to a higher productivity that is waiting for companies that can see the trap clearly, and are willing to set new policies to address them.

      More by this author

      Francis Wade

      Author, Management Consultant

      The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It How To Manage A Post-College Productivity Dip Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies The New LifeHacking #6 – Staying Away from Harmful Gadgets The New Lifehacking #5 – Tricking Yourself into Making the Changes You Need

      Trending in Work

      1 Feel like Giving Up? 16 Way to Help Entrepreneurs Stay Motivated 2 How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details 3 Make Everyone At The Office Happy By Installing This 4 10 Tools to Start an Online Business without Breaking the Bank 5 How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Published on January 7, 2021

      How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

      How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

      Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

      If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

      Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

      You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

      When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

      Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

      In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

      Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

      3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

      Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

      Advertising

      1. Respect deadlines
      2. Understand the work-flow plan
      3. Build in time to mess up

      1. Respect Deadlines

      Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

      One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

      2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

      Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

      3. Build in Time to Mess Up

      You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

      Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

      For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

      Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

      This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

      Advertising

      Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

      Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

      Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

      When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

      12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

      Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

      1. Learn to Listen Well

      You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

      Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

      2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

      Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

      Advertising

      3. Follow Rules

      Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

      4. Take Notes

      Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

      5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

      When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

      As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

      6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

      If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

      7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

      English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

      8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

      Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

      9. Minimize Distractions

      It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

      Advertising

      If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

      10. Take Breaks

      It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

      11. Make Time for Reflection

      At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

      12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

      This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

      Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

      Final Thoughts

      Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

      When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

      More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

      Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next