Attention Management 101

I don´t know how everyone else feels but I seem to get very easily sidetracked with articles, e-mails and books on top of all the usual tasks at the office and at home. It´s worthwhile to try new strategies – here is a straight forward idea from Martha Beck which makes sense to me!

Attention Management 101

1. Accept that you can’t pay attention to everything you ”should.”

2. Make prioritizing a priority.

If you start a day without a clear plan about how you’re going to spend your attention, you’ll end up wasting most of it. Your first priority should be to take a little undisturbed time each day to evaluate the various demands on your attention before they show up. Do your prioritizing whenever you typically think most clearly (most people do best in the morning, but I like to take five minutes before I go to bed to preview the upcoming day). Rank tasks in order of importance and write them down.

3. Plan with eagle vision.

The eagle symbolizes a way of seeing that stays above ordinary life, considering everything in terms of the big picture. This is the way you should think during your daily attention-management planning sessions.  Begin a session by asking yourself these two questions:

(1) What experiences do I want to have during my time on this Earth?

(2) How do I want the world to be different (because in large ways or small, it will be different) because I have lived?

Consider each task on your to-do list in light of these two questions. If a to-do item doesn’t serve either purpose, it’s got to go.

4. Work with mouse vision.

Mouse vision is a metaphor for adopting a mind-set focused directly and completely on whatever is in front of you. Choose what is most important, shut out distractions, and give all your attention to the activity at hand.

To get into a mousy frame of mind, designate a period of time during which you will focus entirely on a given activity. The session shouldn’t be long—half an hour is a good start. Now, set a timer to go off when your work session is finished. Put the clock where you can’t see it, and then devote all your attention to the task at hand; you’ll immediately notice a jump in productivity.

Adapted from Martha Beck’s 4 Sanity-Rescuing Techniques

O, The Oprah Magazine  |  From the April 2002 issue.

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