Time management is a topic we are all too familiar with. Delegate! Prioritize! Be more efficient! But you’re still having trouble getting everything done… We have a new solution, and it’s a hot topic climbing up the ladder of productivity: attention management!
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While similar to time management, attention management changes the focus of your time to how you are engaging in your work instead of focusing on what you’re doing with your time. For instance, did you know that multi-tasking actually hurts your productivity because it takes your brain a significant amount of effort to switch between tasks rapidly?
Here are some attention management tips from yours truly:
- Reduce distractions so you can focus – While it’s tempting to catch up on emails while watching tv, it can reduce your ability to really zone in and be productive.
- Pay attention to your energy throughout the day – your motivation to do different tasks changes throughout the day. Listen to your body and work on tasks you like or work on easy tasks during times when you know your energy will be low. Save the tough tasks for when you’re feeling rested and motivated. Read the research!
- Focus on one thing at a time – like we mentioned above, multi-tasking is detrimental to productivity. We know it’s so easy to just click into an email that came in while you’re working on a deliverable, but we promise 99% of the time, it can wait! Best practice is to work on something for at least 20 minutes before switching to another task.
- Be intentional about your time – none of us want to let anyone down and say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t,” but if you say yes to everything, you won’t be able to give 100% to everything! Give your time a value and be intentional! Read more!
- Stay connected to the why – Feeling unmotivated? Find a reason that intrinsically motivates you. What about this task makes it important? Who does it affect? How will it makes things better? Intrinsic motivation will get a finished product much faster than extrinsic motivation.
- Strengthen your brain’s ability to focus – Of course external factors such as what you work on, distractions, and when you work makes a big difference in your ability to focus, but remember: your brain is a muscle! If you struggle to stay focused, you can improve your ability to focus by practicing! Yoga and meditation are good (and free!) options. If you’re super into science and have a little more money to spend, check out neuro-feedback to help “teach” your brain how to focus.
Apply the Five!
The first step to make any change is awareness and acknowledgment.
We challenge you to pick one of the tips above and identify how you can better managing your attention in that regard. If you’re feeling ambitious, tackle two or three tips, but keep in mind that change is not a event but a process, so it will take time to maximize your attention management skills!
Learn How Evans Thrives!
What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?
Meet Laura Borntraeger!
Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with deadlines and competing priorities, I remember that my current workload is nothing compared to what I had to handle a few years back. In the spring of 2015, I was working full time, getting my MBA at night, and training for a half marathon. I barely had time to eat and sleep, but somehow, I got through it. I’m sure lots of people reading this are dealing with competing priorities: kids, spouses, friends, maybe sick parents or health problems. One way I’ve found to manage stressful times is to focus on attention management and not necessarily time management, which can easily fall apart as priorities shift (new deadline, last-minute meeting, child is sick at school, etc.).
Scientifically, human brains are not designed for multitasking. Our attention span is only capable of tackling one task at a time. To work efficiently, especially when you’re facing a deadline, I find it best to first tackle the tasks you least want to do. Once those are out of the way, you can focus your attention on the tasks you’d prefer to work on without the nagging reminder that you have those dreaded items waiting on your to-do list. You are more likely to spend time on tasks you enjoy doing, and so it should be. If you force yourself to accomplish the undesirable tasks first, you’ll be motivated to concentrate and work productively so you can move on to the work you’d rather be doing. As long as you’re not missing deadlines, I prefer to order my to-do list from least to most enjoyable. As you cross those items off your list, hopefully, some of the stress will lift as well!
Until Next Time…
Evans’ Talent Engagement Team
(Kaitlin Hurley and Nicole Anderson)
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)