The Pros and Cons of Having a Continuous Partial Attention Span

These days, there is a lot of talk about the web generation, or Google generation, and their lack of ability to focus on any one thing in particular for too long. In fact, I have read articles that say people who grew up this way have their brains wired differently than people who did not!

However, I’m not so sure this is such a new concept. In fact, I think I have a continuous partial attention span issue myself! I’ve heard arguments for and against this way of thinking and working, and so I would like to present you with my own set of pros and cons on this subject:

Pros:

  1. Managers and co-workers get an (almost) immediate response to their emails.
  2. There’s always lots of variety so you never feel bored!
  3. You can get multiple tasks done at the same time, so nothing has to “sit” or be put on hold.
  4. You don’t end up getting stuck on something. You can just put it down and go on to the next task.
  5. You get better and better at scanning through information and quickly identifying whether it’s relevant or not.

Cons:

  1. You are constantly interrupted when researching or working on a project-based task.
  2. The above is a “con” in of itself because of the annoyance factor, but the interruptions can result in a lack of total focus on any one task at any one time.
  3. It can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed.
  4. You might end up taking a longer time to do a larger amount of work, than if you just focused on one task at a time. (What do you think about this point in particular?).
  5. It may cause a tendency towards rushing through tasks and spending less time on them than you really should.

So there you have 5 pros and 5 cons from my own experience. Do you have anymore to add, or any thoughts on this subject to offer?

 

Find me on Twitter:  @jacbird and @masitblog

Technical “Writer’s Block”

As a Technical Writer, I often wondered about getting “writer’s block.” I mean, it’s not as if you have the choice to have it or not when you are at work. If the deadline is there, or you are working by the hour, you’ve just got to be productive and write.

I’ve seen the cartoons and the movies just like you. The frustrated writer sitting in front of a typewriter with a trash can behind them, and loads of crumpled and torn papers thrown into and around it.

The fact is, I don’t think I have ever suffered from writer’s block as a technical writer. It could be that the work is more black and white than say, creative writing. But even still, you have to think about the best and clearest ways to present complex information, so there is still a creative element. It could be that I do get writer’s block, but by doing the following have managed to mostly avoid it. So below, I will present you with my top ten list of how to avoid writer’s block as a technical writer.

These are things that have worked for me:

  1. Multi-shuffle your tasks. (i.e. if you get stuck on one task, have other tasks ready that you can switch to).
  2. Think about ideas in the back of your mind even in off hours.
  3. Start your work, then come back to it the next day, or even the next week (if time allows for it).
  4. Research for inspiration!
  5. Go out for a walk to free your mind.
  6. Bounce ideas off of a coworker or friend.
  7. Create an outline of your thoughts and ideas.
  8. Deal with the more complicated writing tasks first thing in the morning.
  9. Practice writing all the time, by writing in a journal or blog.
  10. Join a writing society or group where you can meet and learn from other writers.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer%27s_block
(includes a list of strategies for overcoming writer’s block)

http://www.essortment.com/all/howtoovercome_rsjm.htm
(this person says writer’s block isn’t real!)

http://thefuturebuzz.com/2008/12/03/how-to-overcome-writers-block/
(15 tips on overcoming writer’s block)

Find me on Twitter: @jacbird @masitblog