Attention Management vs Time Management

No matter where we are working from or what our jobs are, we all have been faced with the challenge of mastering time management.  But mastering our time, now more than ever, is not the only challenge that we must all overcome.  Keeping track of the calendar is difficult when it is combined with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.  And during this moment in history, these feelings are not rare.  This is where the theory of attention management comes in. 

Speaker and author, Maura Thomas, explains this simple concept that “empowers your productivity”.  The idea behind attention management is to deliberately choose what gets your attention so that you will actually become more productive; and who would say no to that?

There are three ways to incorporate attention management into your daily life and routine – and remember, this practice should be followed across all aspects of your life.

First, know your priorities.  Identifying the items on your to-do list that are actually a priority will ensure that you are not wasting your energy on something else.  And what if everything on your to-do list is a priority?  Try labeling each task as follows: 

  1. Urgent and important: These are your top priorities that need your attention now.
  2. Important but not urgent: Plan to do these tasks when you have time to do them, they do not need your attention at the moment.
  3. Urgent but not important: If possible, delegate these tasks to someone else, however, if this is not an option, plan to do these tasks as soon as you finish the urgent and important tasks.
  4. Neither urgent nor important: Drop these tasks from your calendars as they do not need your attention.

Second, put yourself back in charge.  This can include simple steps such as putting your phone on silent or do not disturb while you are working so as to not pull you away from your important tasks.  Close any unnecessary tabs or programs on your computer, and make sure that you put yourself in an environment which promotes your attention to work.  Set up a specific work area with few distractions.  Try to control your thoughts by writing down any new ideas that come to mind as you are working and then do not do anything more with them.  You can revisit those thoughts later.

Finally, no more multitasking or task-hopping.  If you are working on one thing, finish it.  Do not stop in the middle and check your phone or email.  According to a University of California Irvine study, “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task” (Hall).  All this time adds up if you continue to switch between tasks.  Once you start a task, do not stop until that task is completed.

By incorporating these steps into your life, you will not only become more productive, but also be able to enjoy your life more fully.  


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