19 Ways to Give Your Undivided Attention

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19 Ways to Give Your Undivided Attention

Have you ever wanted to give your undivided attention to something?

Are you looking for an interesting way to approach time management, while respecting other people’s time, and your own?

If so, then you’ll want to make giving your undivided attention a priority when it comes to managing your time.

Distractions are rampant in our busy world.

It’s all too easy to be sidetracked by flashing screens, pinging alerts, updates, messages, and phone calls.

But what if you could control those distractions and focus on what’s most important?

That’s where honing your undivided attention skills comes in!

In this post, I offer 19 ways to give your full undivided attention in three common situations.

Try using these tips the next time you’re on a phone call, in a lecture, or meeting someone in person.


Undivided Attention: A Brief Story

Have you ever heard of the phrase “undivided attention?”

You may have come across it in your daily life, studies, or interactions with other people.

I was first introduced to this phrase way back when I was a girl in grammar school.

My school hosted regular assemblies every Wednesday morning in the cavernous school auditorium.

The assemblies always involved some sort of speaker, lecturer, or presenter.

Our principal would give a brief speech on school news, a teacher would let us know about a new school activity, or we’d have some sort of lecture on music or a dance performance.

At the start of each assembly, a teacher would switch on the PA system and encourage students to give our undivided attention to the front of the room.

Unsurprisingly, the teachers used the same phrase, “undivided attention,” at every single assembly. It’s a phrase that’s stuck with me ever since.

But what does the phrase, “undivided attention,” mean exactly?

It means your attention is 100% focused on whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing at that moment.

There’s no wandering of thoughts, and no distractions: you have complete and total focus on whatever it is you’re working on, listening to, watching, or reading.

If you’re looking to be manage your time and be more productive, you can’t go wrong giving your undivided attention to whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

The key is to minimize distractions and turn your focus to the present moment.

Below, we’re going to review several ways you can give your undivided attention during three common situations:

1) When you’re on a phone call, conference call, or webinar,

2) Anytime you’re sitting in a meeting, lecture, or presentation, and

3) When you’ve scheduled an in-person meeting with someone.

Undivided Attention Tips for a Phone Call, Conference Call, or Webinar

You’re on the phone with a friend. Maybe you’re participating in a conference call for work.

But are you really paying attention to what’s actually being said? We’ve all had experiences where people are supposed to be participating in a call, but soon find out their attention is elsewhere.

Don’t be *that* person! Make a pledge to give your undivided attention on any type of call, be it personal, or professional.

Here are several ways to give your undivided attention on a phone call, conference call, or webinar:

Stop fiddling with your smart phone.

Yes, you may be using your cell phone or smart phone to make a call, but this is no time to check the weather, read texts, or play games. The only application you should be using at the moment on your phone is your phone application. Period, end of story.

Avoid multitasking.

It is difficult to concentrate on a single task…especially if you are multitasking! Put an end to any additional tasks or actions you may be sneaking in on the side like filing papers, doing the laundry, playing with the dog, cleaning your office, or watching TV. Do one thing, and one thing only: be fully present on the call.

Nix checking email and social media profiles.

Checking email and social profiles may seem innocent enough, but they can really throw your attention off track. Completely log out of your email account and social media profiles before the start of a call. If you need to, temporarily disable the internet, or temporarily dim or switch off your computer monitor.

Close out unnecessary computer applications.

Participating in a webinar? Log out of any other computer applications, other than the webinar app. This includes email programs, word and data processors, internet browsers, music, video, and productivity apps.

Clear your desk.

Spend a few moments to tidy up your desk or workspace. This will make a noticeable difference during your call. You’ll have both the mental and physical room needed to receive and exchange information. Take a minute or two to put items back where they belong, remove any obvious trash or recycling, and generally tidy up your space.

Set your landline or cell phone to voicemail.

This tip is great because it helps prevent distractions before they happen. Take a moment to set your landline phone system or cell phone to go directly to voicemail before you take your call. Don’t forget to undo the setting once your call is completed.

Avoid speaking with others around you.

Ask others not to disturb you while you’re on your call. Likewise, if you’re on mute for a conference call or webinar, avoid having side conversations or discussions with your coworkers, neighbors, or friends. You don’t want to lose your place or your focus!

Be an active participant in the call.

The next time you find yourself on a phone call, do your best to fully participate in the conversation. Carefully listen to the flow of the discussion. What’s being said? Who’s saying it? Where is the discussion headed? If it’s your turn to speak, take into account what other have said before you. Present facts, thoughts, and opinions, as needed, and ask questions where necessary.

Undivided Attention Tips for a Meeting, Lecture, or Presentation

Meetings, lectures, and presentations are meant to be spaces where people can exchange information, ideas, and plans.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets the memo when it comes to giving one’s undivided attention. Cell phones ring, people chatter, papers rustle, and tempers flare.

Giving your undivided attention at a meeting does take some thought and willpower, but it’s not unattainable. You just have to prepare yourself accordingly and show respect for others.

Here are several ways to give your undivided attention at a meeting, lecture, or presentation:

Temporarily turn off your phone, laptop, or tablet.

Audible and non-audible hone calls, alerts, texts, and messages can be a huge distraction to yourself and others. Get in the habit of temporarily turning off or silencing your electronic devices whenever you’re attending a gathering with others.

Make yourself comfortable in advance.

Don’t leave getting settled into your seat for the last-minute. Remove and stow your coat and any other outwear as necessary, put away non-essential belongings, pour yourself a glass of water, and basically get settled into your seat before the meeting starts.

Keep note-taking to a minimum.

Note-taking is an extremely helpful skill to practice when you’re at a meeting. Just don’t make it your go-to action at meetings; you don’t want to distract yourself from the meeting at hand! Practice listening more and writing notes less. Remember, you’re not writing the Great American Novel…you’re taking brief notes at a meeting.

Avoid side conversations with others.

It’s extremely rude to have side conversations with others in a group gathering. What’s more, it interrupts and slows down the entire meeting. If you want to leave a meeting on time, focus on what’s being said or presented. You’ll have plenty of time to talk through your thoughts and opinions later.

Watch the presenter.

When in doubt, watch the presenter at a meeting, lecture, or presentation. They are your go-to focal point and guide. What is she or he doing? What information are they presenting? What do they want the group to do? You can glean a lot of valuable clues by watching a meeting presenter.

Actively listen and participate in the meeting discussion.

Just as we mentioned earlier, it’s important to carefully listen to the flow of the discussion. What’s being said? Who’s saying it? Where is the discussion headed? If it’s your turn to speak, take into account what other have said before you. Present facts, thoughts, and opinions, as needed, and ask questions where necessary.

Undivided Attention Tips for an In-Person Meeting

You’re meeting your best friend at a restaurant. Maybe you’re going out on a date with someone for the first time at a local cafe. Perhaps you’re having a routine check-in with your boss.

No matter who you’re meeting, it’s a good idea to give your undivided attention to the other person. Your presence and attention are effectively saying, “I’m here. I respect you and your time. I’m interested in what you have to say.”

Anything less…well that can be a bit of a problem! If you’re not giving others your full attention in one-on-one meetings, you’ll definitely want to do something about that, right away.

Here are several ways to give your undivided attention when meeting in person:

Stop rearranging your personal appearance and belongings.

This is not the time to twirl your hair, clean your glasses, adjust your tie, apply makeup, organize your bag, or review your notes. Put down or put away anything that isn’t related to the conversation at hand with your contact

Avoid your cell phone.

Time is limited in a one-on-one meeting, so you’ll want to make the most of out it. Be sure to tuck away your cell phone and keep it out of your way until your meeting is over. That means no checking email, social media profiles, texts, video watching, internet surfing, etc. If the phone rings, ignore it, and let it ring. You can always call back later.

Mind your own business.

Remember, you’re here to interact with the person sitting or standing in front of you. This isn’t the time to buzz nearby tables, eavesdrop on conversations, peer into cubbies or rooms, or find out what others are doing. Mind your business, and pay attention to your contact!

Make direct eye contact.

Of course this tip seems simple, right? But you’d be amazed at how many people avoid eye contact or don’t realize they’re not making eye contact. Say goodbye to gazing off into the distance, staring at a piece of artwork, or admiring the paint color on the wall. Look your contact right in the eye when speaking to them.

Actively listen and participate.

Open your ears and practice listening to what is actually being said (and not what you think or guess what the person will say). Can you truly understand what the person  is saying? How are they saying it? What are they asking of you? Exactly what is it that they want you to do? When it’s your time to speak, present your thoughts, opinions, and facts, as needed, and ask questions where necessary. And above all, enjoy your one-on-one time together!


How about you? How do you give your undivided attention in the above settings? What edits or tweaks can you make to ensure your attention is in the right place? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Do you want help managing your time and schedule? I offer personalized time management coaching. Click here to learn more.

Want to better manage your time? The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, is a hands-on eWorkbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems. Click here to learn more.

19 Ways to Give Your Undivided Attention
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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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