When Less is More: The Two Modes of Attention

When Less is More: The Two Modes of Attention

I sincerely hope that you will be able to take a few days off this month to visit family and friends, and to recharge your batteries a little bit.

Your physical, emotional, and mental batteries, that is, not your smartphone.

I talk with doctors all the time who are looking to have more time away from their practice, whether that is working fewer hours, fewer days, or both. They view that as time off.

But an article in The New York Times last year pointed out that in the modern age we aren’t ever really “off.”

Because of smartphones, cell signals, and satellites, there are very few places you can go to really “get away.” Perhaps a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or the Himalayas, although I wouldn’t bet on that second one.

In any event, it’s tough to get really “off.”

In the article, cognitive researcher and PhD Daniel Levitin pointed out that our brains take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information in a SINGLE DAY. That’s five times as much as we did 25 years ago.

Levitin also pointed out that our brain has two attention modes: one focusing on tasks at hand and the other working in the background, putting together various thoughts and ideas to form creativity.

He calls the latter the daydreaming state.

Levitin argues that every time you get a Tweet, Facebook message, email, or text, it competes for attention from that behind-the scenes daydreaming part of your brain.

So you should designate parts of your day for those tasks so they occupy the front-of-mind part of your brain, allowing the creative part of your brain to do its job.

He also says that regular breaks – whether naps or vacations – can be very restorative IF they are true breaks.

The problem is that you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, etc., even when you are on vacation.

Unless you’re on that deserted island or Asian mountain, your mind doesn’t get the needed “break.”

That means your mind isn’t solving that difficult orthodontic problem that came to see you.

Your mind is solving the problem of how much of your retirement should be put in real estate and how much in mutual funds.

And your mind isn’t solving how you can attract more of the patients YOU want.

Let me encourage you to set up a practice that gives you the freedom to really have a break. Not just time away, but time OFF.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that’s part of what we do. We help dentists get more patients, more profits and more freedom.

So, while I don’t want to give you too much to think about right now – after all, you were just encouraged to take time OFF – you might keep that in mind when your brain slips into daydreaming mode about HOW you can set up a practice that gives you more freedom. 

We’re all about creative problem-solving for our clients.




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About the author
Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and dental web marketing expert who has pioneered the way dentists market themselves online for the past decade. Since incorporating in 2001, Colin has established a rock solid track record with his dentist clients and turned SmartBox into a stalwart of proven results for hundreds of dental practices.