Attention management refers to models and tools for supporting the management of attention at the individual or at the collective level (cf. attention economy), and at the short-term (quasi real time) or at a longer term (over periods of weeks or months).
According to Maura Thomas, attention management is the most important skill for the 21st century. With digital revolution and the advent of internet and communication devices, time management is no longer enough to guarantee a good quality of work. Allocating time to perform one activity does not mean that it will receive attention if constant interruptions and distractions come across. Therefore, people should stop worrying about time management and focus on attention management.
The ability to control distractions and stay focused is essential to produce higher quality results. A research conducted by Stanford shows that single-tasking is more effective and productive than multi-tasking. Different studies have been conducted in using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for supporting attention, and in particular, models have been elaborated for supporting attention (Davenport & Beck 2001) (Roda & Nabeth 2008).
Supporting the management of attention the objective is to bring a certain number of solutions to:
- people perception cognitive limitations, such as the limited capacity of the human short-term memory (an average number of 4 items (Cowan 2001) can be managed at a given time), or the theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships (the Dunbar's number of 150).
- information overload
- social interaction overload (that may for instance originate from the online social networking services from which people get a lot of solicitations)
- interruption (Kebinger 2005)
- multitasking (Rosen 2008)
Tools can be designed for supporting attention
- at the organizational level, by supporting organization processes (Apostolou, Karapiperis & Stojanovic 2008)
- at the collective level
- at the individual level, for instance using attentive user interfaces (Vertegaal 2003) (Vertegaal et al. 2006) (Huberman & Wu 2008).
- at the individual level by helping people to assess and analyze their attention related practices (for instance with the tool AttentionScape (Davenport,Beck 2001)).
A certain number of projects have been conducted to investigate how to use ICT to support attention such as:
- AtGentive – Attentive Agents for Collaborative Learners.
- SAKE – Semantic-enabled Agile Knowledge-based eGovernment (IST 027128)
- SUITOR (Maglio et al. 2000)
- Attention economy
- Information overload
- Personal information management
- Time management
- User modeling
- The Economist profile on Herbert Simon (20th of march, 2009). Accesssed May 13th, 2017. http://www.economist.com/node/13350892
- Thomas, Maura. "Attention Management Website".
- Gorlick, Adam (2009). "Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows".
- Thomas, Maura (2015). "Time Management Training Doesn't Work". Harvard Business Review.
- Apostolou, D.; Karapiperis, S.; Stojanovic, N. (2008). "On Managing Users' Attention in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations". In G.A. Tsihrintzis; et al. (eds.). New Directions in Intelligent Interactive Multimedia, SCI 142. Studies in Computational Intelligence. 142. Springer. pp. 239–248. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-68127-4_25. ISBN 978-3-540-68126-7.
- Cowan, Nelson (Feb 2001). "The magical number 4 in short-term memory: a reconsideration of mental storage capacity". The Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 1. 24 (1): 87–114. doi:10.1017/S0140525X01003922. PMID 11515286.
- Davenport, T.H.; Beck, J.C. (2001). The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business. Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 978-1-57851-441-0.
- Davenport, T.; Voelpel, S. (2001). "The rise of knowledge towards attention management". Journal of Knowledge Management. 5 (3): 212–222. doi:10.1108/13673270110400816.
- Huberman, Bernardo A.; Wu, Fang (2008). "The Economics of Attention: Maximizing User Value in Information Rich Environments" (PDF). Advances in Complex Systems. 11 (4): 487–496. doi:10.1142/S0219525908001830.
- Kebinger, J. (2005). "Current research in workplace interruption management" (PDF). Paper COMP171. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-20.
- Maglio, P.P.; Barrett, R.; Campbell, C.S.; Selker, T. (2000). "SUITOR: An attentive information system" (PDF). In G.A. Tsihrintzis; et al. (eds.). Proceedings of the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces 2000. ACM Press. pp. 169–176. doi:10.1145/325737.325821. ISBN 978-1581131345.
- Nabeth, Thierry (2008). "User Profiling for Attention Support for School and Work". In Mireille Hildebrandt; Serge Gutwirth (eds.). Profiling the European Citizen. Springer. pp. 185–200. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6914-7_10. ISBN 978-1-4020-6913-0.
- Roda, Claudia; Nabeth, Thierry (2008). "Attention management in organizations: Four levels of support in information systems". In A. Bounfour (ed.). Organizational Capital: Modelling, Measuring and Contextualising. Routledge (advanced research series in management). Routledge. pp. 214–233. ISBN 978-0-415-43771-4.
- Rosen, Christine (2008). "The Myth of Multitasking". The New Atlantis, Spring 2008. 20: 105–110. Archived from the original on 2009-02-18.
- Vertegaal, Roel (2003). "Attentive User Interfaces" (PDF). Communications of the ACM. 46 (3): 30. doi:10.1145/636772.636794. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-29.
- Vertegaal, Roel; Shell, J.S.; Chen, D.; Mamuji, A. (2006). "Designing for augmented attention: Towards a framework for attentive user interfaces". Computers in Human Behavior. 22 (4): 771–789. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.12.012.
- Wolpers, Martin; Najjar, Jehad; Verbert, Katrien; Duval, Erik (2007). "Tracking Actual Usage: the Attention Metadata Approach". International Journal Educational Technology and Society. 10 (3 Special Issue on "Advanced Technologies for Life–Long Learning). ISSN 1176-3647.