Walk into any bookstore in your neighbourhood or community and locate the self-help section and you will find volumes of work on self-help materials ranging from time management, communication, tips on getting more done with less, education, career, marriage, friendship, weight loss and several numerous packs of knowledge materials at your disposal.
In today’s world, information and knowledge are in abundance, such that, rarely can anyone distinguish themselves in any field merely by information and knowledge alone.
In this article, I share with you the first of three (3) simple, yet powerful skills essential to succeed more in any field one may find themselves. First is what I term Attention Management (AM).
What is Attention Management
Today, information is in abundance and because the human brain cannot digest it all, Attention Management (AM) has become the most important skill to succeed at work, and in business. The world is gradually transitioning from the era of knowledge and information to the era where those with the attribute of high-powered focus and attention rule! Attention Management generates deep work, deep work is the level of work concentration mostly attributable to high-performing athletes, writers, musicians, scientists, inventors etc.
Thomas H. Davenport defined Attention as focused mental engagement on a particular item of information. Items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item and then decide whether to act or otherwise. The amount of distraction we face on a daily basis keeps on propounding – they are the first to greet us in the morning when we wake up from bed.
The battle of Attention Management (AM) begins the night before each day and is either won or lost right from the time we get up from bed – either we chose to be swayed by distractions in the media, distractions from siblings, children, friends or we chose to plan our day the night before and commit to our schedule no matter what it takes.
Time Management versus Activity Management
It is primal to realise that what matters today isn’t how we treat our time and schedule, but rather, where we focus our mental energy. In developing high-powered focus and an attentive mental makeup, it is essential that we grow from talking about Time Management to Activity Management.
The theory and concept of time management have been a scam for so long very few people realise it.
In that, in reality, no one gets to manage time.
Some definitions of the term “manage” from the WordWeb dictionary are to *Be in charge of, act on or dispose of. It means to superintend over. But in reality, no one actually superintends over time. There have always been twenty-four hours in each day for all persons since time began and no one really gets to change/and or control time through some form of “management”. Once time is here and it’s gone. What we have control over are the Activities we commit ourselves to during each day.
By Activity Management, we get to choose between doing now the things we find ‘bland’ and ‘difficult’, yet are very important and necessary for our growth and success – such as reading that book, starting that project, meditating and praying, finishing that artwork or even working out. As against doing what is fun and easy ie. The things we naturally gravitate towards and yet have no bearing on our growth, development and success may include mindless conversations, prolonged watching of Television, vacuous use of social media, and idleness, to mention but a few.
From the explanations rendered above, we realise that engaging in the former can be uninteresting and seemingly unpleasant, yet, they are the very activities that when we commit ourselves to would bring us the success and happiness we seek. They also lead us into growth and fulfilment, once we accomplish them.
On the other hand, expending our time and effort on the latter can be easy and pleasurable, nevertheless, such activities do not lead us into the growth and development that credit us the success and good life we seek.
Hence, it is the daily Diligent Management of the activities we expend our time and effort on that makes the difference in our lives. Time Management, therefore, is vague and isn’t so much as important as Activity Management. More so, knowledge and information in our world today does not necessarily give us an edge over others but for our Focus and Attention!
To increase our focus and attention for deep work, here are a few tips to consider:
- Commit workweek solely to work: Easy-going activities, minor duties and tasks are better assigned over the weekend, off days and holidays;
- Tasks that require more creativity could be scheduled to be undertaken at dawn or early in the morning;
- Stillness breeds focus: In his book As a man thinketh, James Allen put it out very well, he said “Calmness of mind is one of the most beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control . . .tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this – in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your mind hand firmly upon the helm of thought.
In the barque of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleeps; wake him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”
I trust this has been a good read. In my next publication, I will share with you the final two important skills I believe are necessary to enable us to become more productive in today’s world of work and business. Stay with me.
ALSO, READ These Six Health Rules “Maketh” Rich…
Author: Elijah Otoo – Essien, Assistant Superintendent of Immigration (ASI)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0203656160/0240080104
Ghana Immigration Service HQ,
Ridge – Accra.