Attentiveness In Business

vs. distraction

Concentrating on the person or task before me

To practice Attentiveness I will:

  • make eye contact
  • ask questions when I do not understand
  • set the intention to listen
  • not make it about me
  • tune out distractions

    Today’s constant notifications from all the technology designed to keep us productive has become the biggest source of distractions to our attention span. We usually choose to react to what is in front of us rather than on which we intend to focus. Without Attentiveness we end up responding to other people’s priorities faster.

     Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, authors of Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, asks what’s wrong with that picture. Coming from two guys who developed some of those distractions at Google and other companies, the question takes on even more significance. Their “Design Sprint”, created while they were at Google Ventures, has helped hundreds of teams solve problems by redesigning their work week. (Mine included!) Building on lessons from these sprints, they experimented with their own habits and routines to optimize energy and focus. In this book they explain how they have turned their experiments into a 4-step daily framework:  Highlight, Laser, Energize, Reflect.


    “Research shows that the way you experience your days is not determined primarily by what happens to you. In fact, you create your own reality by choosing what you pay attention to. This might seem obvious, but we think it’s a big deal: You can design your time by choosing where you direct your attention.  And your daily highlight is the target of that attention.” (p. 35) .Start each day by choosing a focal point that you prioritize and protect in your calendar. This is your highlight. It is not the only thing you will do in the day, but it is the most pressing for that day.


    Making time for the highlight requires that you control distractions. We know we can’t eliminate all of them, but they give several good ways to do this. Their system makes distractions harder to access so we do not have to use willpower to avoid them. Changing the environment is easier than changing behavior.


    Using the body to recharge the brain is the focus of energize. This is nothing new but making small changes as part of this system seems fitting. Enhancing your energy gives you the power to stay laser focused and achieve those things you choose to give your attention.


    The book contains 87 suggestions over the 3 areas with which the authors experimented. The last step is to reflect on changes you adopted to determine if they worked for you. This is how you customize their system to make it your system. They provide a simple form to evaluate what worked. It uses the scientific method to refine your results for a sample set of one – You!. Knapp notes in this section, “The daily reflection changed my behavior for the better. I’m always more diligent when somebody’s watching, even when that somebody is me.” (p. 246)

     This month, be intentional about your attention and realize more satisfaction.



    Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky have both worked for Google Ventures and other social media companies and together they have authored the New York Times Bestseller, Sprint and are the creators of Time Dorks, a popular newsletter about experiments in time management.  Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, their latest book and the subject of this essay, was published in Oct. 2018.

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