2019-11-11 Issue 122 – Fundamental Behavior 20 – Pay attention to the details
An excerpt from “The Organized Mind” by Daniel Levitin states, “The processing capacity of the conscious mind has been estimated at 120 bits/second. That bandwidth is the speed limit for the traffic of information we can pay conscious attention to at any one time.” It goes on to say that we need 60 seconds to process someone speaking, which explains why it’s difficult to listen to two people talk at the same time.
So in our very busy jobs where we are faced with constant information, decisions and deadlines, we’re destined to forget, overlook or make a mistake at some point. I recall sending an email blast out to thousands of contacts with the word PEFORMANCE spelled wrong in the title, even though several others had reviewed it too. You’ve seen examples of how you can read a sentence even though the words are rearranged? This is bcuseae the human mind deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Our busy minds go on auto-pilot!
We must make time to check our work… but you already knew that! So more importantly:
- Force yourself not to think about another activity because you are stealing from your own available bandwidth.
- Take your brain off auto-pilot. In the email example, the reviewers should have been asked to look consciously at spelling.
- Put safe-guards in place. Thankfully I have not had an error that has led to a serious consequence, but I’m sure that is only because someone else reviewed and caught it.
- Don’t beat yourself (or others) up over an honest mistake. Learn from it and move on.
Director of Marketing & Product Management
YKK AP America Inc.