Productivity – time management vs attention management
As one always does at the beginning of a new year, I’m turning over a new leaf – getting more organised, getting more efficient and trying to ensure I can get more work done in less time so I can maintain a great Work-Life balance.
One of my big challenges is time management – lists, priorities, getting focused on particular tasks etc. So in the spirit of the digital age, I’ve been looking for cloud based tools merged with leading edge thinking to help me overcome a life-long struggle to stay organised.
The first tool I’ve adopted is Thymer, a great To Do list that Sarah found in her pursuit of the ideal timesheeting system. I’ve subsequently come across a whole genre of online To Do list tools, but Thymer seems to be doing the trick, and we’re going to trial using it as a replacement for the whiteboard we all huddle around every morning, where we discuss what’s going to get done in an agile like manner.
I’ve also installed RescueTime , a little bit of software that sits on your machine and records every website you look at, every application you use and every minute you spend shuffling emails. It’s interesting looking back over a day and being able to see how much time i’ve spent on news sites, Facebook and other time-sinks, and just having the information makes me more aware of my productivity levels. I’m not yet ready to install the blocker versions that allow you to shut off activities for certain periods of time – i think i’ve got to take responsibility for my own willpower, but it’s another interesting example of where simply showcasing the data means that behaviour changes.
I’ve also had a look at a concept that i saw presented at the Fuji Xerox Nextworks sessions and raised (i think) by Mike Walsh – the concept of “Continual Partial Attention”, where we feel like we have to pay attention to everything in order to avoid missing out. I came across some really interesting stuff – some quotes from Linda Stone :- “ We have focused on managing our time. Our opportunity is to focus on how we manage our attention”
“in the cases where people reported managing their time, they more often reported experiencing burn-out, they didn’t know how much longer they could go on at their particular job or lifestyle. There was often a sense of helplessness and overwhelm. The endless list, the one that gets added to and never completed, at the center of it all, left them with a heavy heart and a burdened sense of tomorrow….. What did surgeons, artists, and CEO’s have in common? Most of them reported that they managed both their time and their attention. In surgery, in the studio, and in the time carved out to think through strategies and issues, these professionals reported shutting down the devices and endless inputs (email, phone, interruptions), at scheduled times, and claiming those moments to focus. In almost every case, these professionals reported experiencing “flow” (a la Csikszentmihalyi) in their work.” (from the Huffington Post article by Linda)
It’s an interesting concept for us as a business, where what we provide to our clients is insight, strategy and ways of improving the value of their digital presence – all services around value improvement where the quality of the information is dependent on the skill, knowledge and experience of the strategist. And yet, as with most agencies, our primary pricing model is the good old fashioned hourly rate.
We’d all agree that 3 hours of highly focused, no-distractions, deeply involved time is worth more than 3 hours of time where a digital distraction steps in every couple of minutes ? So how do you grade time and cost accordingly ? Some interesting questions…