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While talking to someone at work or even on the phone I often find myself drifting off where my attention wanders off. This happens even during short say 5 ~ 10 minute conversations. If while talking I try to write down some stuff to that I can remember later, I miss out out the details. Any techniques you guys can suggest for improving on this aspect ?

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You might want to read this post as it is somewhat similar to your problem. –  THelper Jul 9 '12 at 11:43

6 Answers 6

During listening

  • Be an active listener, not a passive listener. Give some reaction sometimes during the listening (such as nodding, showing your surprise and other feelings etc.).
  • Try to focus on the main subject instead of the words.
  • If possible, give feedback about what you just listened sometimes. This will help both to you and your interlocutor to more easily focus.

Other times

  • Finish your works. A half-finished work may stay in your brain also out of work time and negatively affects your focus.
  • (As possible) Do what you like, give up what you hate and boring things. In a boring work, you can not focus optimally and this situation also affects your overall focus performance (IMHO).
  • Train yourself to focus. You can perform little focusing exercises in your waste time, on going etc.
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+1 for "finish your works" –  Abid Rahman K Jan 13 '13 at 5:03
    
I see several edits in this answer, repeating one item is part of the answer? (repetita juvant :D) –  spocchio Nov 19 '13 at 18:54
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"Focus on the main subject instead of the words" - I have to be careful with this point. I start thinking about something related and then my mind is focused on that and has tuned out of what someone is saying –  Adam-E Jan 4 '14 at 16:47

Emotions are the cause of failure of our intelligence --Jose Antonia marina

Observing our emotions is as important as observing our thoughts --Tolle

1) As you exercise to keep your body in shape in same way you have to exercise to keep your mind in shape.

2) Are your emotions in control while listening? (it seems not in control that is why you may be facing this problem) maybe you are overwhelmed, maybe you are suffering from some lack of confidence, self esteem issues , lack of interest or maybe other things. what you need to do is to find out what is disturbing you get rid of disturbance. maybe talking to a one particular person you lose confidence , find out why. In short try to find the source of the emotional outburst if any and try to solve the problem.

3) maybe you have lot of things on your mind to do. do it and clear your mind. try to write all the things down you need to do, that will definitely be a help.

4) start meditation that will automatically lead to better concentration.

5) if not doing try some jogging in the morning for about 20 minutes per day which will automatically energies you and will speed up the blood flow in you body which will automatically bring you in the better frame of mind.

6) before talking to someone breadth i.e inhale and exhale from your nose 20 times that will automatically control your breathing. do this breathing exercise for about 20 minutes per day. it is very important to keep breathing under control for quality of life.

7) try to listen to some intelligent and informative talkshows on bbc or some documentaries on discovery etc and try to recall what is being said afterwards. try to write it down.

try to follow what is relevant to you and see how it goes.

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Focusing on bodily sensations has helped me avoid drifting off in a conversation. Whenever I feel like I'm not paying full attention in a conversation, I try to be mindful of the sensory input to my body, my feet in particular. This can be summarised as Remember Your Feet.

Mindfulness meditation techniques help train this, doing body scan meditation in particular. A good place to start is this 3-minute audio clip (see bottom of table) for guided body scan meditation.

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Chew gum.

Seriously, it helps. It kept me awake during lectures (which are done in warm, dim lit halls - the perfect sleeping conditions). Keeps your mind awake. My attention span has grown exponentially, thanks to chewing gym.

Silly advice, but I am being serious.

Good luck.

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I always doodle when I'm listening to something important on the phone. Then, years ago, I read somewhere that a study showed that doodling helps focusing. They even recommended doodling during lectures and seminars.

Try and see if it works for you too. And it's fun. Just remember that there are no rules to doodle.

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You need to listen all the words what the talking person is saying. You can use your mind as a filter. You can filter what you need. you just ignore what you need not.

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Welcome to Personal Productivity! I don't really see how this would avoid one's mind wandering off. Can you please elaborate? –  THelper Feb 16 at 8:47

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