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It pays to develop your attention to detail


We all know that attention to detail is important because it helps prevent mistakes and makes success in the workplace easier. The problem is that being attentive to detail can be nearly impossible in your business when colleagues keep distracting you, or you’re one of those people who just can’t focus. But, there are methods and techniques which you can apply that will help you become better at paying attention to detail.

Below you’ll find 10 effective ways you can develop this powerful skill in the workplace.

1. Get Organised – fail to plan, plan to fail

It makes sense that when everything is chaotic, details will slip. The first step to take to improve your attention to detail at work is to get organised. Now, getting organised doesn’t mean that you need to tidy up your workspace and waste time going through your stuff, but it does mean that you need to start using your calendar. Mark down appointments and meetings to ensure you won’t forget about them and note any details or thoughts you have about each meeting. Then, plan each day by making a note of deadlines and important dates.

2. Make Lists – make light work of multitasking

Many people are under the impression that being organised and having lists hinders creativity, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Making lists can boost creativity as it takes away a lot of the stress that goes hand in hand with multi-tasking and it allows you to prioritise and allocate time for every task. You become more focused on what you’re doing which is the main ingredient to being attentive to detail.

Making a list can be fun in itself, but be careful not to let it become another  counterproductive activity. Hand-written lists are fine, but why not try one of them many apps that will remind you when it’s time to do something?

3. Limit Distractions – tune out

One of the biggest enemies of attention to details is constant distraction. But how to limit distractions? Open plan workspaces make distractions inevitable; there’s always someone getting up, talking to someone, etc. You’ll need to learn how to mentally isolate yourself.

Research has time and again shown that people who listen to classical music (Mozart in particular) can be more productive, so it’s worth giving it a shot. Music with lyrics, however, can just end up adding to your list of distractions.

Turn off phone notifications and disable email pop-ups. Limit the time you spend checking your email and create a space that helps you relax and focus.

4. Take Regular Breaks – refresh for results

Our brains are a like muscle which means that they need downtime as well.  Overworking your brain and working straight from 9 to 5 without taking a break can be incredibly counter-productive. For your brain to be able to pay attention to detail, it needs to be well-rested, so it’s crucial to schedule regular breaks.

To give yourself mental breaks, get up often and walk around the office, or spare a few minutes occasionally to read your favourite blog. If you are worried that taking regular breaks might not go down well with your boss, remember going back to work with a refreshed mind can you more attention focused and ultimately improve results; what it’s all about.

5. Play Focus Enhancing Games – play to win

Coming back to the concept of the brain as a muscle, exercising your brain is just as important as giving it time to rest. Athletes, for example; train day in day out to increase their stamina and improve their performance. Similarly, workers need to train their brains to perform at their best.

The easiest – and most entertaining – way to do that is by playing focus enhancing games like cards or spot the difference. Of course, there are also lots of apps that can help you improve your attention and focus.

6. Be Present

One of the main reasons people tend not to pay attention to detail is because they are just not present when performing a task. With all the distractions, stress and pressure most employees deal with it’s easy to understand how someone can zone out, but it pushes you to produce poor quality work which can be disastrous for your reputation and your career.

The best way to remedy this situation is to identify the reasons you are so often not present and find solutions. If it’s because you’re bored at work, well maybe it’s time to move on, if it’s because your workload is too heavy and all you do is think about how long it will take you to do everything then you may need to have a chat with your manager about delegating your tasks.

7. Embrace Your Routine

Too much routine can be a killer, but a lack of routine makes you undisciplined so find an in-between that’s ideal for you. The reason routine can be beneficial to developing this skill is that it forces you to do the same things over and over again which means that as you’re familiar with going through the motions, you’re much more likely to pay attention to smaller things, i.e., the details. Routine basically helps train the mind and you should therefore learn to embrace it.

8. Quality or speed?

One of the main reasons work can suffer is the difficulty balancing speed with quality. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, says it’s better to be fast than perfect. Yes, it’s important that you maintain quality but trying to get too much stuff done in the pursuit of perfectionism can actually get in the way of your success.

The best way to learn to do things better is to just keep doing them. The repetition, the routine mentioned earlier, should mean you can more easily spot or prevent mistakes as you become more efficient and hopefully less stressed.

9. Come Up With a Personal Rewards System

Being focused and paying attention to detail can be hard for anyone. Our minds tend to wonder more than we’d like to admit. But one of the best tips is to create a rewards system for yourself. We are all kids at heart, and we all like to get rewarded when we get something right, the problem often is that our bosses couldn’t care less, so find ways to reward yourself.

One way is give yourself a break goal, say for example that you’ve spend x amount of minutes completely focused at work, why not give your brain a rest afterwards? Another way is to spoil yourself each ten-twenty mistakes you’ve spotted because you were attentive to detail. Whatever you choose to do, it has to be something that’s meaningful to you.

10. Be an Active Participant in Meetings

One of the reasons many of us don’t pay as much attention as we’d like to detail is because we are not involved with our jobs. If you care about your job and you’d like to change that, then a great place to start is by becoming a more active participant in meetings. Meetings are where decisions are made and being able to voice your opinions gives you the opportunity to become more involved which can help make you more enthusiastic as well.

Developing this skill is crucial for employees, especially those who are just starting their careers. Identifying methods and techniques which will help you improve your attention to detail can be a vital aspect of your career development.


Gary Vaynerchuk leads Business Squared – a 1 day program learning from Aussie and global self-made mega-achievers




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