There have been many books written about how to manage your time. There are planning systems, filing systems and approaches from Eat the Frog to Franklin to GTD and from 168 Hours to Zen Habits. Ultimately these are all in service of how you manage your attention.
Attention is the sustained focus of cognitive resources on information while filtering or ignoring extraneous information. Where you point your attention is where your time and energy go. Your attention dictates your experience.
Reflections on Attention:
- Time is not money – time is a resource that must be managed just like your energy, your money and your attention. Do you consciously decide where to put your attention?
- There’s an app for that – whether it’s Focus Booster, focus@will or Rescue Time, there are a variety of technology tools that can assist you as you work to intentionally focus your attention.
- Manage Distractions – you cannot completely eliminate distractions but you can manage the environment and technology around you that creates distractions. For example, turn off the email alert that lets you know when you have a new email message. Think about where distractions come from and consider whether you can change your environment to eliminate the distraction. Headphones are becoming a hot accessory in today’s open working environment because they are a way of helping people manage noise and distractions. How can you modify your environment to reduce distractions?
- Winning creates focus – where are you going, what will it be like when you get there and how will you behave along the way? When everyone is clear on what winning looks like and what it takes to make it happen you will be able to prioritize and get focused. Get clear on winning and paint a compelling picture for your team or organization.
Instead of worrying about managing your time, decide where you will focus your attention. Last week we were researching something on the internet and came across information on Chicago’s best burgers. That random encounter captured our attention to such an extent that we decided to go experience Au Cheval’s highly acclaimed burger for ourselves.
It wasn’t in our schedule but the attention we gave to this random internet encounter created the interest and eventual motivation to go experience a burger. So much for the healthy veggie stir fry that was planned for dinner. Although we didn’t wait the 2 ½ hours (yes, you read that right, 150 minute wait to eat a burger) we were inspired to share with you the importance of intentionally focusing your attention.