Choosing Attention Management
There is nothing more thrilling than a day that is driving you: your calendar is full; emails, voicemails, and texts are unending; and three crises demand your expertise. In this scenario, it's already 2:30 and you've been in response mode all day.
Everyone has had this day many, many times. And, yes, these days are thrilling. They also are demoralizing if you're also trying to make meaningful progress on priority projects.
In contrast, you are driving the day when you choose attention management:
- You choose how the calendar commitments go and realize that bringing your full attention to each meeting makes them go faster and produces substantive outcomes. For two meetings, you realize ahead of time that you aren't needed and your team does a better job without you.
- You choose to address emails, voicemails, and texts at particular times of the day and within a timeframe. With your full attention, you easily act/delete/defer/delegate.
- You choose to attend to the "crises," of course, but soon realize that two aren't even problems and the third is only a crisis if you over-react because you're already overwhelmed. With full attention, each is easily resolved.
Attention Management as Managing Your Attention
Ultimately, attention management
depend upon managing your attention, which starts with these three tricks:
- Devices and notifications. Make your agreements with your family, customers, and colleagues: When will you be unreachable by phone/email/text? What's the emergency plan for reaching you during those times? Your ability to manage your attention is in part a function of how likely you are to be interrupted at any minute. Hint: For most people, this trick offers hours of focused time and the priority project may only require 25 minutes if you're focused!
- Physical workspace. Clear everything you can and leave yourself with a distraction-free area. Hint: You may want to leave a single piece of paper and a pen for reminders and brainstorming.
- Mind. Stay clear with yourself about what you're doing, and why. Hint: If you catch your mind wandering, notice whether you're unclear about what you're doing, how to do it, or whether you can do it at all! You may need to call someone to clarify one or all of these.