Attention to stuff that adds no value… It works

When could trivia ever save your life? I’m struggling to think of situations… other than held hostage by a maniac game show host, where your life depended on getting answers correct (note to Hollywood execs – you can have that one for free). No, the correct answer is when you need to pay attention. And that’s just what some very clever local government workers have done in Australia.

Trivia road signs – simple concept: take a long road that drivers regularly lose attention on and add some Q&A signs. I’d like to have been in that first meeting. Some brave soul suggesting spending good taxpayer money on trivia. But, you know what, it’s genius, and will likely save lives.

So what can we learn from this about attention?

We are constantly asked about attention – how to keep that of others, and how to keep your own. It’s a slippery thing to hang on to, with lots of individual approaches that work, but no unifying solution. However, these road signs give a strong clue – keep people engaged and think about how you can add things around the subject or activity that don’t always have to directly support the task (think about doodling, which has been proven to be an aid to focus for easily distracted people).

There’s so much said about distraction right now, and social media is slated as a major issue. But, used sparingly, I think it’s actually a great aid to keeping attention. Think of it as a quick ‘sluice’ for the brain – clearing down the neural fatigue that sustained attention can create. Snap fact – semantic satiation is when you read/hear the same word too many times and it loses its meaning. It’s also a lovely phrase (don’t read it too many times though).

BTW, I found the road signs article when I was ‘refuelling’ my attention with some web-surfing…

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