I have a lot of conversations both in my work and personal life, and one topic that comes up pretty often is challenges with time management. This is a tough subject to tackle, but that’s not to say it’s impossible to get really good at it. It just takes some planning and practice.
I read a book recently by Maura Thomas called Attention Management. In it, she suggests that time is not actually the problem. The problem is distractions. And, in turn, managing time isn’t the solution, but managing attention is.
She goes on to ask, “Are you living a life of choice or a life of reaction and distraction?”
Here’s another question: with all of the technology around us every day, are you managing it, or is it managing you? I suggest most of us are allowing it to control us. So, what if we used technology to manage technology? I know that sounds a little crazy, but stick with me.
Here are a few examples:
- Set-up quiet time on social media sites like Facebook
- Don’t sleep with your phone next to your bed
- Control when your computer yells at you
- Create “Do Not Disturb” times on your phone during certain times of the day
This can be especially helpful in your work environment, so control it. If you’re working from home and have distractions (as many of us do), make an agreement with the other humans and animals on ‘do not disturb’ times. Be realistic. It probably won’t be eight hours, so design these blocks as 60- to 90-minute timeframes. This can also be used with work email and chat. Just be sure to let your co-workers and managers know so that everyone is on the same page.
Task lists can be helpful too. Try to stay focused on just one item, accomplish it, and check it off. Also, as I am writing this, my computer rang, and my phone beeped. Clearly, I need to follow my own advice a little bit better. Good grief.
Like with most things in life, we have choices. So choose to create a work-life and personal life that doesn’t control you, and as you go into this week, think about how you can manage your attention versus letting reaction and distraction rule it.
Life is good. – Jeff
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