According to studies done by Microsoft, the average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds, while humans can only pay attention for eight seconds! This number dropped from twelve seconds in the year 2000. This decrease of four seconds has been attributed to the expanding list of  high-tech gadgets that influence and vie for our attention day in and day out. With this increase of smart devices, the art of multitasking has become the norm and ultimately leaves our attention to detail at risk.

Why is attention to detail so important? Details are the pieces of a puzzle that can make or break the success of a project, a company, or even one’s career. For example, a misspelled word on your resume can immediately ding your chances of being hired. Or what about that quick copy and paste into an email message – only to be embarrassed when the recipient was given information about a competing company? It doesn’t matter if you are a student in high school or a seasoned professional – making it a priority to slow down and pay attention to the details of your work will make a difference in your success.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. — John Wooden

Here is a workout for increasing your attention span and watching for those details that will get you the results that you deserve:

Exercise Your Mind
If you are easily distracted or overwhelmed, your attention span needs to be exercised and sharpened. Here’s an idea that should help. Once a day take two minutes to look closely at something specific – a tree, a photograph, the coffee display while in line at the café. Mentally note the details that you see and when the two minutes are up – look away and walk through the list of details in your head. If you make this a daily process in a variety of scenarios, you will notice an increase in your attention span as well as a noticeable improvement in your attention to detail.

Exercise Your Ears
To learn anything, you must first listen. More importantly, be an active listener. Stop, focus, and listen to what the other person is saying. Make it a practice to talk less and listen more in every conversation. When it is time for you to respond, make sure to thoughtfully repeat the details of what they just communicated to you. This is a sign of good will to the other person and something that can help you remember what you’ve learned.

Exercise Your Body
Sometimes your body just gets tired. If you hit that point where you are staring into space or rewriting one email over and over – take a break! This is the perfect storm for an important detail to go unnoticed and hurt you. Walk away from your desk – go for a walk – grab a cup of coffee – and jump back in when you are rested and have more focus.

Exercise Your Eyes
It’s easy to quickly gloss over an email, a report, or a proposal and miss important details. Take some time to carefully check every aspect of your work to make sure that your spelling and grammar are correct and that you are conveying the message you want to convey. Then, have someone else review it. Four eyes are always better than two! Even though most software programs have proofing capabilities, having a coworker review your work can quickly reveal any glaring errors. Actively listen to their advice and consider those that are necessary.

Learning to pay attention can change your life. Take the time to enjoy these helpful tips to grow your attention span beyond that of a goldfish – it will definitely pay off!