Concentration Crisis in Selling. A Skill Few Practice.
According to my client’s shaky recollection, the last time he found himself in deep concentration, without interruption, was….uh…college. He’s now 42 and a Senior Account Executive for a large corporation suffering from insomnia and failing sales.
A different client answered my question with much hesitation…”when was the last time you concentrated in complete silence on just one task?”
“I…I…can’t remember.” she stammered. Sally is 31 years old and a Sales Manager for a midsize regional insurance company suffering from migraines and an underperforming sales team.
Here are just two examples, out of many I coach on a weekly basis and the story is always the same. Physical ailments along with suffering sales. A Coincidence? A concentration problem?
Migraines, insomnia, eating disorders, addictions, depression, obsessive behaviors, anxiousness and panic attacks.
No..I’m not a doctor or a psychologist. BUT I can’t ignore the concentration crisis I see happening with my clients and perhaps the correlation to some of their physical symptoms.
Here’s the Science:
“The pinball effect…..is exactly the psychological repercussions, which stem from frequent shifts in information structure. In other words, the attempt to divide attention to different sets or chambers of information simultaneously.”
To simplify it…multi-tasking. When trying to read and respond to emails, while scrolling through your Twitter feed and listening to Adele on your AirPods all at the same time, it’s impossible for your mind to focus and catch up. The shifts in information structure is incompatible to your brain thus you become ineffective.
But more importantly…it causes cognitive harmful effects even with a simple activity like talking on a cell phone while driving.
I’ve always said it’s hard for me to chew gum and drive..apparently that’s a thing.
Strayer, Drews and Crouch concluded in their 2006 research
“the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk”.
The pinball effect can sufficiently be described as the doubling of space, that is, an attempted splitting of attention.
“Doubling induces an exhausted awareness, Thus creating the pinball effect leading to impaired concentration. Studies show that it can take up to 15 to 25 minutes for the brain “to get back where it was after stopping to check an email.” (Heid 2015). This is easily seen in the cellphone-using driver, but also in the Facebook-checking office worker or student and in the coffee-drinking café guests whose tables are often occupied by a couple of “attention-seeking” smart phones.”
“More instructively, the pinball effect is harmful to tasks that must be performed with sufficient attention (Lepp et al. 2014). Therefore, the pinball effect should be reduced as much as possible in spaces of learning, education, and where even minimal concentration is required.”
- More isn’t better. Is social media working for you or are you addicted to the feel good it gives you? Be honest. Set aside three times per day to concentrate solely on social media. Only give it 15-20 minutes of your precious time and mental energy. Turn off all social media notifications, so you’re not tempted to look every time you hear a “ding”
- For one week turn off all noise and work in silence. Complete silence, no back ground noise. Learn to tune into your mental thoughts and creativity. Focus only on what’s in front of you. If a thought invades reminding you to pick up the dry cleaning…have a post a note handy and write the thought on the note then get back to the task at hand.
- One hour before bedtime turn off all items that stimulate your senses. If you’re reading on a tablet, switch to a book. Turn off the TV, your smartphone, close the laptop, and iPad. Play soothing music or ambient music to evoke relaxation of the mind. If you have problems drifting to sleep, try Hemi-Sync music. It uses audio guidance technology to influence brain wave activity. You’ll sleep like a baby!
- Structure your day. Chunking time slots during your day will free you from the feeling of being overwhelmed. It also keeps you on track, and gives you the strength to ignore all the distractions that can interrupt your concentration.
- Turn your office phone on do not disturb mode. Close your office door with a sign do not disturb. Put your smartphone on silence. Mute the computer. Then get to work on the most important task of your day. Realistically, you can’t mute your entire day, so pick and choose those critical tasks you can go dark.
How to Improve Concentration
According to Psychology Today,
“Pay attention. You cannot take in information unless you are paying attention, and you cannot memorize information unless you are taking it in. Get enough food and sleep, and avoid distractions such as a background radio or television.”
- Writing notes with pen and paper is much more effective cognitively than typing on a tablet.
- Review information: If you have an important sales presentation coming up, practice the material. Sleep on it and practice again and again. Or if you’re unsure about an email that you need to send. Write it out. Save as a draft, then review it again in 24 hours.
- Exercise your body and mind. It’s a scientific fact that mental challenges create new wire connections in the brain. Physical exercise creates dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other. One of the most important is dopamine.Dopamine provides your “get up and go.” If you have trouble concentrating, you may have a dopamine deficiency. Physical exercise also boosts dopamine production.You don’t need strenuous exercise to get brain-boosting benefits.Taking walks, or doing gentle, no-impact exercises provide powerful mind-body benefits.
If you find yourself having difficult bouts in lack of concentration, try these suggestions and tips. More isn’t always better for your mental and physical health. Get off the multi-tasking hamster wheel and take control of the distractions. You can control your environment…inside your head and outside.
PLEASE share your thoughts on Concentration Crisis in Selling. A Skill Few Practice. What are the worst distractions you have in your life right now? I’d love to help you solve it! Just twinkle those fingers on the keyboard and leave a comment.