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Maintaining Focus

Mark Mann, Principal, Sound Predictions LLC –

Maintaining focus seems like an easy task. However, a simple slip of the mind, or a stray daydream, can quickly lead to injury or death. Awareness of your mental state can mitigate these risks. Mark Mann, from Sound Predictions, investigates and reports on the causes and consequences of a preoccupied mind, expanding on our abilities to truly focus and sustain mental attention.

“We unintentionally step-up our risk when we misread and/or write-off symptoms as general discomfort, routine displacement, or due to the silliness of aging”

When the mind wanders, and the focus wanes, our overall attention to our work decreases significantly, conversely increasing the possibility for error. By recognizing the signs and situations leading to a preoccupied mind, we are able to address heightened risks and develop safe mental habits.

Risk examples include:

  • Dealing with difficult or shocking news
  • Physical pain or discomfort
  • Feeling overwhelmed or unqualified for the work
  • New or unfamiliar equipment, coworkers or surroundings
  • Recovering from any trauma or accident
  • New medication
  • HALT: Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and/or Tired
  • Negative expectations or overly excited with positive anticipation

Awareness must an intentional and individual decision. Conditioning the mind and developing mental discipline will ultimately lead to an attitude of safety. With the rise of 24/7 communication through social media and constant technological stimulation, there is a greater need for mental self-awareness and the ability to ignore the onslaught of distractions.

“Inattention… may lead to a minor injury, a simple accounting error, or a correctable slip of the tongue. The exact same thinking or distraction may also lead to a head on collision or fatal fall”

A distracted mind is hard to predict. One must choose to be aware, conscious and mindful, encouraging mental clarity. Providing physical stimulation, such as signs, lights and audio reminders, are some of the basic tools used to remind us to pay attention. But those are easy to ignore, and their constant presence reduces their impact. The responsibility of focus ultimately falls upon the individual. Training the mind to rely on itself, promoting mental energy, and overall physical health are excellent tools in the development of maintained awareness. It is important as an employer, leader and a friend to discuss, expect, train, and encourage mental discipline as a value. Doing so will dramatically increase your quality of safety, and ultimately lead to a safer environment.

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