“In as much as we preach on effective time management daily with its many benefits such as higher productivity, less stress amongst others, it would be harder to achieve if we do not properly sharpen our attention span…”
Have you ever said to yourself that you were going to sit down for about 30 minutes or one hour and get down to the project you have pending? How did that go for you?
I bet you ended up scrolling endlessly on your screen for more than 30 minutes or maybe stared at the blank screen, at a loss for what next to do.
Maybe you scheduled about 3 hours to study for the test but ended up watching endless streams of TikTok and Instagram videos instead.
In as much as we preach on effective time management daily with its many benefits such as higher productivity and less stress amongst others, it would be harder to achieve if we do not properly sharpen our attention span. Being focused for any period requires immense discipline and willpower.
Scheduling a certain amount of time to study or maybe work on a project would not necessarily mean that you would get that work done at that time. It may just look pretty on the phone application or your calendar or your journal and just sit there staring at you.
Most times when we make our to-do lists, we tend to leave out the distractions that would likely surface and that can result in less than effective time management. This is because the majority of the time, our peak productivity hours tend to change.
Dividing your daily tasks into time blocks would mean little if your attention is not there in the first place and this is why you will need to focus on sharpening your attention before you can build effective time management.
Sharpening your attention focuses more on the timing of the tasks or events rather than the time itself and ensures that the reason for doing them is meaningful and important. It more or less enables you to have a better focus on the task at hand and prevents you from becoming distracted.
According to psychologist Adam Grant, “Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments.” Instead of analyzing how you’re spending your time, try analyzing where your attention is and the one thing that is catching your attention.
Time management on its own assumes that we humans have control of time when in reality we don’t. According to Maura Nevel Thomas, author of Attention Management, “Time is not our problem, as we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, and we can’t control time. Our problem now is one of distraction—from our ever-present technology and its ability to deliver communication and information to us in unlimited ways all the time. Since distraction is our problem, ‘time management’ is not the solution. The antidote to distraction is attention.”
How to guide your attention to your daily plans
- Start by building meaning into your tasks by asking yourself these questions, what will I learn if I accomplished this? Will I grow and benefit from this and will this benefit people around me?
- Humans are not robots so our peak productivity hours are not static, you will need to learn about your peak productivity hours and learn to build your attention span around them.
- The particular spot where we tend to do our daily tasks speaks well about how long our attention on a particular work would last, it maybe your reading table, your bed, or the little corner in your living room, learn the location that works best for you.
- Substitute your boring tasks with your interesting tasks and try alternating them as this will help to sustain your attention span for a long time. Focusing on one task for a long time is enough to take your mind off completely so try interchanging them in between.
- Task prioritization is very important in sharpening our attention because, at your peak productive hours, you tend to be more focused on the work you do, so it’s essential to prioritize your task according to productivity hours. Calculations, analysis and things that require you to think hard can be done where you’re at your highest productive hour, and creative, fun tasks can be done when you’re less productive because it requires more iterative non-linear thinking.
Only when you have gotten a hold on sharpening your attention, will time management be more valuable and effective.