When I first watched the movie The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan, I was raving about it for several days after. I remember thinking about several scenes from the movie and going gaga about how well the movie was done.

I remember something similar happening with another all-time classic, Shawshank Redemption. Well, no words are enough to describe how brilliant that movie was.

I also remember preparing for a professional certification called Project Management Professional aka PMP® by Project Management Institute. For several days after successfully clearing the grueling exam, I continued to relate to what I had studied and prepared for, to everyday activities.

Sheryl Sandberg in her bestselling book ‘Lean in’ comments upon work life balance and says that there is no such thing. There’s work, and there’s life and the two will overlap, she shares with us. That had got me thinking. Yes, it does overlap, we all have seen how. So when you drop kids in the morning to school and head to work and you’re attending a meeting, you suddenly remember that teacher’s comment that your kid needs more efforts in math. And then you head on for a brainstorm with your team and your mind displays the tasks left unattended from the last meeting you just finished. Soon you realize that your mind is fleeting between thoughts and not allowing you uninterrupted focus on the task at hand.

Has it happened to you, that your thoughts tend to spill over? Psychologists call this mental state as Attention residue.

The fact is that our brains are not capable of working on two challenging tasks simultaneously. In order to achieve focus, we need to detach from the previous task before we embark on the next one. But that doesn’t always happen. This results in thoughts about previous work percolating into the next one and we end up not being able to give our 100% focus on either. Researchers call this a huge hindrance in deep thinking and problem solving that requires almost 100% focus.

Few people realize that attention residue is hampering their peak performance as they end up doing everything in a haphazard manner. The increased use of computer for work has made things quite complicated. While you’re working on your task, there are invariably other tabs open on your screen which vie for your attention. Then there are the social media alerts that keep popping, the emails that pop every now and then and the colleagues who will drop by to have a word. All of this results in you not being able to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. Sophie Leroy, who pioneered this theory, says that there’s a cost to this attention residue. In an era when multitasking is appreciated, there are still some kind of tasks, especially those of knowledge workers, that cannot just go with that. Read more.....