Monday Morning Motivator – Managing Attention, Not Time

Do find yourself frustrated and overwhelmed by never ending to do lists? Do you sometimes feel that your workspace looks like this?

Post it notes

Linda Stone, a writer, speaker and consultant focused on trends and their
strategic and consumer implications, is a Huffington Post blogger who recently wrote a post that I found very interesting. Is it Time to Retire the Never-Ending List? 

Experiencing this herself, Stone turned to friends and asked:

"Do you have a never-ending list? Do you manage your time? Do you manage minutes, tasks, and lists? Do you start each day with a list that has more on it at the end of the day than it did at the beginning of the day, in spite of how many items are completed and crossed off?

Or do you manage your attention? Do you manage emotions, intention, and make choices about what will and will not get done? What are your favorite ways to do this?"

Well, she got a number of different answers from a variety of occupations which caused her to embark on an informal research project where she found that many high achievers manage their attention and time rather than tasks and to do lists. She makes some solid suggestions about how to accomplish this including:

1. Each evening or morning before you start your day, make a short list of your intentions (the result and feeling of something you want) for the day and by each, write the related to do’s for that day. Try to keep your list to 5 intentions. Consciously choose what you will do and what you will not do. Keep a different list of what you will review for inclusion on other days.

2. List only what you really expect to do that day. As other things come to mind, write them on a separate list. By putting these items on a separate list, you are creating the space to be in the moment with each of your day’s priorities. Review that list as you plan for the next day and determine how they fit in to your plans. Give yourself some down time, enjoy your successes at the end of the day.

3. Give yourself meaningful blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on each intention. Turn OFF technology each day during those blocks and focus on your intentions.

4. At home, be clear about what technology you’ll use and where. Computer in the kitchen? Maybe not. A friend of mine just removed the computer from her kitchen and said she is now far less likely to stop to constantly check email or news. In the kitchen, she pays attention to her family and prepares food. Sometimes they do group family activities at the kitchen table. When she heads into her office to work on her computer, her children know not to disturb her while she works.

Some interesting food for thought and action. Coincidently I’ve been using a few of these strategies lately and found them to be very effective. So if you have a neverending to do list, give it a try.

Photo credit: BlueBadge

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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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