Continuous Partial Attention (CPA) is described as an automatic process that enables people to simultaneously pay attention to several sources of information, whilst scanning for relevant information, but not necessarily finishing anything. This can include scanning for other people, activities, or opportunities, and replacing the primary task with something that seems, in this next moment, more important. It allows people to shift from superficially concentrating on a lot of information to focusing on highly relevant information during a short attention span.
Continuous partial attention sounds like multitasking, but multitasking is trying to do two or more things at once, CPA means having part of our attention directed elsewhere even when we think we’re focusing on just one task. With CPA you are always “on”, always on high alert anywhere you go or anytime as well.
The following are some result of continuous partial attention;
- Having a stressful lifestyle
CPA causes an increase in your stress levels. When your mind is constantly switched on, your brain doesn’t get any downtime, and that leads to stress. It increases your cortisol levels as you are always in flight or fight mode.
- Operating in crisis management mode
CPA may lead us not focusing on a specific task or thing, continuous partial attention leads to taking more time to do any given job, even a small one.
- Being over-stimulated
When you have too much of something it may become unbearable or uncomfortable, as you are always over stimulated, always wanting more.
Now that we know about Continuous Partial Attention, let’s take steps to see if we are doing this. Take measures to stop it and in turn increase our productivity.
If you feel like you are experiencing continuous partial attention, here are some tips on how to stop it;
- Give yourself some time to stop using any form of technology
- Have the minimum amount of windows open at one time on your computer, so you don’t go from one page to another.
- Concentrate on one task at a time
- Give yourself a free time
- Take a break with purpose
- Stop for a moment then breathe,
- Do a quick 5 minutes meditation to get you back on track.
Continuous Partial Attention is a desire to not miss out on anything, but it could lead us to serious problems that may result in a negative impact to your daily living. In the end it contributes to a stressful lifestyle, to operating in crisis management mode, and to a compromised ability to reflect, to make decisions, and to think creatively. So take a deep breath and take a look at how you are actually working.