The self-help theory has been there since early times. But only in the 21st century has it been an extensive phenomenon prevailing areas such as psychology, politics, business or health. This philosophy involves various concepts, and one of its latest trends is attention.
So what’s attention? Encyclopedia Britannica describes it in the following process, “attention, in psychology, is the focusing of consciousness on some phenomenon to the elimination of other stimuli.” Simply, we can concentrate on one special thing or task despite the surrounding disturbance. It’s also important to know that there are four types of attention:
Sustained Attention – when you can concentrate on one work for a long time, e.g., reading any book.
Selective Attention – choosing to concentrate on one business despite surrounding diversions, e.g., reading a book in a packed, loud bus.
Alternating Attention – doing 2 braided activities back and forth, e.g., checking your records for references while penning a book.
Divided Attention – splitting your attention between two or more elements, e.g., writing a book and chatting with your friend on the phone.
We often give one of these four kinds of attention in our work not even being conscious of it. Knowing how we give our attention can help us be more focused and useful in your work.
Attention for Managers
The reason for which focus is getting more & more value is the fact that it affects our work. There are many studies on attention and its influence on people’s productivity, performance, and even intelligence. According to a study by workplace researcher, Bostjan Ljubic of Steelcase, “we are interrupted about every three minutes during the workday.” What does it say about our attention? Well, we are unquestionably not aware of how we undertake it.
While the issues of attention management are deemed mostly regarding workers, it also happens in the environment of project managers. It’s no wonder since their work is difficult. They have to work with various people on numerous tasks in a short time. That makes it hard to focus and pay attention to what really is essential. Especially, that in most cases they’re surrounded by distractions.
Beeping electronic appliances, phones ringing every 5 minutes, tight deadlines, meetings, & various projects are just a few of the numerous things the project managers have to deal with. So how to find out when is the right time to pay attention? When should managers give the most attention at work?
When and How to Pay Attention?
Not every job or issue needs your prompt reaction. You, as a manager, are the sole person who knows your competencies and duties best. Also, you better than anybody knows when and how to react to things occurring in your circumstances.
When you work for a team, you should be able to direct your attention and your team’s. With all the data, our conversations get contaminated with extraneous facts, and it’s necessary to filter our conversations, whether it is face to face or via electronic devices.
And so attention is a resource. You just have it as much. And like every other resource, you should be able to manage it correctly. But you also have to remember that it is closely related to time.
How do you use your work time? How much of it do you assign to individual tasks, projects, people, meetings, and other perspectives of your work? And how much of it are you really wasting?
It is all correlated with your focus, business, and prioritization. In other words, how you manage your time. And the sole means to check it is to monitor your own work and how you use your time on it.
How to Get Things Done?
Some people exactly know how to split their time between work, friends, family, and special moments. And if you are one of such people, you know how much it helps in managing work-life balance and peace of mind — paying attention in a modern era of distractions means more than ever because it benefits in getting more work done.
If you are struggling with getting things done because of the distractions and wrong attention management as a project manager, here are three things you should do.
- Implement time tracking
Let’s refer to what was written above – the only way to get things done promptly is to pay attention to how you are spending your working hours. And time tracking software, such as TimeLive, can help you with that.
- Find your productive and productivity zone
Attention management can bear fruits only if you know how things work for you. And so, you have to get the balance that will make it simple for you to work and filter the critical issues out of the information noise.
Find the place you feel most comfortable at, be it kitchen desk, the comfy armchair in the workplace hall or a small desk in your team’s room. The same goes for work hours. If you like to get up early and work in your pajamas, do it. But if you feel good working at late hours; don’t force yourself to be an early riser. Do whatever suits your productivity & helps you direct your attention in the right direction.
- Be clear
The only method to learn and understand attention management is to concentrate on two spheres in which you must be crystal clear about:
You – your plans, goals, everyday to-do’s and habits, work free from disturbance, and your expectations from yourself.
Your team – your expectations from your team when they can reach out to you; and what are they liable for.
If you concentrate on these two spheres, you will know what to pay attention to and when.