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  • Writer's pictureHelen Hart

3 Tips to Stop Attention Residue

I posted about decluttering earlier in the week on a Facebook post and today I’d like to expand on that by talking about Attention Residue.

Attention residue is when thoughts about a task nag at us and are unwelcome intruders while we are performing another task.

Research by Sophie Leroy, an assistant professor in the UW Bothell School of Business, reveals that interruptions throughout the day may be shattering our ability to focus and ultimately hurting our performance.

So how do we navigate this to declutter our brains?

Here are 3 tips to reduce attention residue:

TIP 1:

Schedule in tasks for certain times and put a time limit on the amount of time you will spend on it.

If a task is unfinished in the time-frame, reschedule it for another day. This allows the brain to forget about it in the short term, knowing you’ve set aside time in the future to work on it. By rescheduling a task instead of simply walking away from it, means your attention is no longer held by that task.


When working on something that requires deep thinking or attention, it’s totally okay (and important) to take yourself away to somewhere you will not be disturbed. If you can’t find a quiet spot why not put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door. Pop your phone on silent mode so you can focus solely on the task at hand without any distractions. Close your emails and turn off notifications.


When asking others to complete a task, give them a defined time limit. I use to say ‘no rush on that, whenever you get a chance’. Having knowledge around attention residue, I now understand the importance of putting time limits on things in order for others to complete the tasks and make better decisions.

Need more help with this? Contact me for a chat

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