Archives for category: Attention Management

Ever since becoming engrossed with Tony Robbin’s Personal Power program in the early 1990’s, one of my primary life-long passions has surrounded taking charge of how my time is spent.

By focusing, and executing, on the most urgent, critical and important activities in our life, we can deliver the necessary results to propel our lives toward optimal success.

Some of my earlier blogs such as the 6 P’s about proper prior planning and High Leverage Activities reinforced the importance of taking charge of your life on this earth.

What I have found during my professional business and coaching careers is that we are responsible for our own demise when it comes to “time & life management.” The predominant culprit appears to be the dis-ease of Over-Commitment!

For a myriad of reasons, human beings seem to be unable to say “NO” when we should.

In teaching “time-management” over the past few decades, I’ve encouraged attendees to plan or commit to no more than 50% of their/your available time. Surprises, unexpected interruptions, unplanned activities, etc. will quickly absorb the remaining 50% that you thought you had available to be used at your discretion!

By Under-Committing, you have a fighting chance of actually staying in control of your precious personal time…and how it will be spent.

Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame stated that “He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life.  But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”

Here’s your challenge: will you CHOOSE to…under-commit, over-deliver, eliminate chaos, and gain control???

overcommit

head-heart

In my personal and professional life, I have observed a pattern with regard to how decisions are made…anatomically.

Starting with the Southern part of our body and heading North…

  • Especially in the heat of the moment, the knee jerk reactionis very common. This technique employs minimal insight and information when responding to a given situation.
  • From there, we may opt to the more sophisticated seat of the pantsapproach, where we use our limited personal experience and judgment to come to a conclusion without considering procedures, planning, or other available technology or input.
  • Then, we may advance North to “gut feeling.” At this stage, we utilize intuition, both our own and that of others, coupled with additional data in order to come to a conclusion on how we believe things will turn out.
  • Improving upon this practice, we might continue upward to “listen to our heart,” wherein we now allow our deepest emotional inclinations to have a stake in determining next steps.
  • Finally, we can move to the final stop in this anatomical journey…where we “make decisions with our head.

Incorporating the aforementioned components of personal experiences, available information and technology, valued input from many prudent sources, and then mixing in the proper amount of emotion and logic, we arrive at the “best decision:” one derived from your brain’s coordination of all available data points.

This fact-based decision making may take a little more time and discipline, however, our entire anatomy will thank us later.

While working with my business clients, it has become evident that there is pain and frustration resulting from apparently not having enough time for getting the most important business-related activities completed.

Certainly, daily operational requirements coupled with the speed of technology can create an environment wherein we may fall into the “reactive” versus “proactive” mode.  Thus, we tend to allow that proverbial “whirlwind” of activity to take control of our how our time gets spent..

Consequently, excuses begin to enter into the picture, as we justify our lack of execution as being the bi-product of too many tasks to be completed coupled with too many interruptions.

As emphasized in my blog on the 6 P’s  (Proper Prior Planning Produces Professional Performance), it is imperative that YOU CHOOSE to control the what, when, where, and why of how you spend YOUR valuable time & energy.

Do what matters!  Resolve to perform the most important high-leverage activities that will deliver the maximum return on your effort.

Take Action

One of my favorite coaching areas is that of Attention Management (the artist formerly known as Time Management).

Time cannot truly be managed…there are 86,400 seconds in a day and once gone, you cannot recover them.  On the other hand, how you spend that time, your attention and focus,  can be proactively controlled given that proper personal disciplines and barriers have been established.

All to often, people spend their days hitting the ground running, operating in reactionary mode and being at the mercy of the world and people around them; instead of controlling their activities.

A surefire way to improve your effectiveness is to dedicate time to a daily action plan, either the night or early morning before your committed day starts.

Adding a quiet time or meditation period is a useful tool in this process.

Once you’ve created this daily strategy, draw upon your personal power to make every effort to stick to that plan, no matter what.  Sounds easy, does hard!

Further, ensure you include some time slots for handling the unscheduled interruptions that will come, regardless of the boundaries you’ve established!

Give it a try next week, and I’ll bet you’ll see an astonishing increase in productivity…not to mention that you’ll have less stress and feel better!!!

Plan your work

Managing your life’s activities and consequently how you spend your valuable time is controlled by no one other than yourself.

Of course, its easy to let circumstances overcome your personal power and, as a result, you can fall into the trap of “feeling like the world is conspiring against you.”

For the most part, the reality is that we, as individuals, are responsible for the choices we make.

Having dealt with employees, bosses and/or clients who have expressed their discontent with how their lives are at the apparent mercy of others, I quickly remind them that they are in control of their schedule and destiny.

A simple starting point is to begin every day with your personal game plan, allowing some time for the unexpected surprises and time-bandits that WILL occur, and then implement your personal discipline to ensure that your day is spent the way that YOU had intended.

Priorities

Dickens determination

Wow, was Charles Dickens ever ahead of his time when he made this declaration in the 1800’s!

The art of time management rightfully reinforced the importance of such traits as planning, proactivity, prioritizing and punctuality as essential in achieving your goals (see the blog on the 6 P’s for more).

In the late 1960’s, the computer industry introduced the concept of multitasking, the apparent improved performance by an individual via handling more than one task at the same time.

I recall an era when job seekers proudly touted multitasking as a skill on their resumes!

The reality is that multitasking results in wasted effort due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.

A 2009 study by Hewlett-Packard revealed that multitaskers performed much worse at tasks involving cognitive processes and memory than did those who focused on single tasks.

As alluded to in The Electronic Leash blog, modern day technology has forced us to heed Dickens’ direction. Those who indeed can demonstrate the skill of concentrating on one task at a time will surely outperform the others who remain at the mercy of allowing distraction to occur.

One of my favorite coaching areas is that of Attention Management (the artist formerly known as Time Management).

Time cannot truly be managed…there are 86,400 seconds in a day and once gone, you cannot recover them.  On the other hand, how you spend that time, your attention and focus,  can be proactively controlled given that proper personal disciplines and barriers have been established.

All to often, people spend their days hitting the ground running, operating in reactionary mode and being at the mercy of the world and people around them; instead of controlling their activities.

A surefire way to improve your effectiveness is to dedicate time to a daily action plan, either the night or early morning before your committed day starts.

Adding a quiet time or meditation period is a useful tool in this process.

Once you’ve created this daily strategy, draw upon your personal power to make every effort to stick to that plan, no matter what.  Sounds easy, does hard!

Further, ensure you include some time slots for handling the unscheduled interruptions that will come, regardless of the boundaries you’ve established!

Give it a try next week, and I’ll be you’ll see an astonishing increase in productivity…not to mention that you’ll have less stress and feel better!!!

Plan your work