Career Adventure

career development from both sides of the interview table

Make the decision: Managing your attention

Even the most organized person can sometimes find themselves looking over their to-do list when they should be calling that client or submitting that resume, hashing and rehashing the most effective use of their time. But excessive focus on time management can result in mismanagement of another resource: your attention.

The first step in managing your attention is eliminating distractions, which could mean any number of things depending on the level of focus necessary for the task.  For instance, my first cut is the television, any computer notifiers (Outlook, Tweetdeck), Instant Messaging of all flavors, web email, etc.  You may consider clearing your desk of papers or turning off the phone.

But even setting the stage may not be enough.  Routinely managing your attention requires discipline.  Try making your workday an exercise in decisiveness. If you have a pretty good system for organizing your life, you know what you have to do on any given day.  When you sit down to start work, choose that thing that is most important for you to accomplish today and do it.  Don’t let the temptation to review and rethink things creep in.  Of course, allowances must be made for new information — for instance, you may decide that if a client calls, that outweighs the task at hand.  But understanding and living by your priorities will make your entire workday more effective.

If you find 100% focus on any one task taxing, try setting aside one hour in the morning and afternoon to practice this skill.  You can set aside those tasks that require the most sustained focus and know that you’ve earmarked this space to achieve them.  Over time, you can maintain a higher level of focus over a longer period of time.

In another post, we’ll talk about some of the technological helpers to maintaining this level of focus.  In the meantime, if you’ve got tips, share them in the comments!

Filed under: howto, mindset, time management, , , , ,

About Career Adventure

Career Adventure is the blog of Kristi Daeda, a Human Resources and recruiting pro sharing thoughts on career development from both sides of the interview table.

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