What Is Good Time Management? (and Why It Doesn’t Matter to Become More Productive)
If you are struggling to become more productive, you may feel overwhelmed. You may think that you have too little time to work on the things you have on hand and there’s too much on your plate.
This may make you think that you want better time management skills. However, time management alone doesn’t help.
Good time management comes with attention management. It’s when you can divide your work into small practical sections of time and control your attention span accordingly.
So, if you want to learn more about good time management and get tips on improving your attention management, you have come to the right place!
Let’s get started.
Expected benefits of good time management
Effective time management has many benefits. For instance, it can help:
- Reduce your stress.
- Improve the quality of your work.
- Leave you with more energy to spend your free time recreationally.
- You have more precise goals for every day.
- Improve your focus and decision-making skills.
- Improve your confidence and reputation in the workplace, which leads to better workplace relationships.
- Have greater self-discipline and reach your goals faster.
However, to make the most of your time, you must learn time and attention management skills.
Is productivity about time management?
Productivity is not just time management. You can effectively complete the tasks you have set out for yourself to bring yourself closer to achieving all your goals while maintaining the balance between your personal and professional life.
It’s not just time that matters. It’s also how much work you can get done efficiently while maintaining a balance.
On an individual level, the meaning of productivity can differ from one person to the next. Depending on what you want to achieve, productivity can mean different things.
For instance, it doesn’t just mean being able to work efficiently. It can also mean nurturing relationships, trying to eat healthily, or even finding ways to create a source of side income.
Is lack of time really the problem?
Most people who struggle with being productive claim they don’t have enough time to do everything they want to get done in a day.
Chances are that if you are one of the people who struggle with being productive, you may also have similar complaints.
However, it’s not really the lack of time that’s the problem. It’s our lack of attention and prioritizing.
People tend to procrastinate a lot, putting them behind schedule on the tasks they are supposed to do. As a result, their time to complete a particular job reduces, and they feel overwhelmed.
In such a state, they feel that perhaps having better time management skills would make it easier for them to complete their tasks because they would be able to divide their time more effectively. However, that alone wouldn’t help.
You need to not only allocate small, efficient sections of time for your tasks but also need to complete them within that time frame for you to be productive.
To do that, you will have to ensure that you are not procrastinating and have a laser-sharp focus on the task at hand. That’s where attention management comes in.
What is attention management?
Attention management is a process whereby we provide attention to a matter of concern, individually or collectively, to achieve a set goal. This can be put into effect both in your personal and professional life.
But it is far more than the surface-level perception that it’s just being able to focus on something.
Being able to effectively employ attention management requires us to be able to manage the various distractions around us. These distractions cause us to lose focus, thereby making us unproductive.
Moreover, it requires us to control our focus and direct it towards different tasks on our own. This needs to be done proactively; instead of having a deadline dictate what you should be doing right now – consider it a way of taking control over your mind and your life.
As human beings, we are constantly distracted by things coming from our external environment (e.g., lights, sounds, noise, etc.) and our inner body (e.g., hunger, sleep, anger, etc.).
Being able to focus on any task requires us to control our attention from not diverting due to either external or internal factors. This is achieved through controlled neglect. Using attention management, we filter out the distractions from our thoughts and focus our brain on what’s important: getting the job done.
Our brain controls everything we do, but it can, unfortunately, entirely focus on only one thing at a time. Therefore, when we start multitasking, our efficiency is reduced, and we don’t get the results that we want to see.
But controlled neglect, through attention management, allows the brain to prioritize the task at hand while “neglecting” the other duties for the time being.
Now more than ever, attention management has become increasingly important as more and more people have started working from their homes. A home has far more distractions than office space, including kids, pets, people at the door, chores, etc.
Thus, to retain the same efficiency expected from the employees in the offices, firms have now placed a significant emphasis on attention management. This has helped curb the time employees spend procrastinating and resulted in improved work performance.
On the other, attention management helps the employees as well. Being able to complete their tasks on time frees up their day. This gives them more time to take care of their hobbies or chores and helps maintain an outstanding work-life balance.
Time management vs. attention management
Time management can only dictate the set amount of time that you take out for a task. For example, you may decide that you will spend 40 minutes working out tomorrow. However, who will hold you accountable if you choose not to do that?
That’s where attention management comes in. You need to be focused on the task at hand so that you don’t procrastinate and get started on it. You must retain your motivation and use it to guide your attention.
Thus, time management alone can’t help you be productive. To achieve efficiency, you must learn how to manage your time and attention.
It’s true that without attention management, you may procrastinate all day and then rush through everything all at once. However, that will only burn you out and isn’t sustainable in the long run.
How to improve attention management
Here are some useful tips to enhance your attention and concentration:
1. Create a work environment that motivates you to work
Whether you are working from your home or at your office, your environment plays a massive role in your performance.
Clear your desk, leaving only the documents you need in front of you, and start working. If possible, try to close your office door, so you don’t hear the noise outside.
2. Focus on a single task at any given time
While multitasking is technically possible, you must first get the hang of single-tasking if you struggle with productivity issues.
Tune your focus to be laser sharp when working on a project, so much so that you are not even thinking about other things you need to do.
3. Treat yourself with kindness to avoid burnout
We are humans, and you must realize that that includes you. The most productive people can also have lazy or bad days. Therefore, if you have an unproductive day, the most essential thing that you need to ensure is that you don’t criticize yourself too much for it.
The more demoralizing you are for yourself, the harder it will be for you to bounce back from that. Instead, you will start internalizing that you can’t work, making you even less productive.
If you are currently stuck in a loop like that, you need some help. Many great online courses can help you maximize your productivity. Use these courses to get back on your feet, and then never lose your focus again – and if you do, remember to be kind to yourself.
4. Minimize technological distractions
In today’s world, most of our distractions come from the very thing that we need to work on – technology. While you are working, your phone may buzz a million times, depending on how socially active you are.
If that wasn’t bad enough, your team might start having a chat on the team’s Slack. However, these distractions can disrupt your focus and overall productivity.
Texts or calls are short events that exist only for a few moments but serve to derail us from our working momentum. Now imagine it took you 30 minutes to get going with the flow, and then your phone rings; it’s your coworkers who want to ask if you will be coming to the dinner tonight. However, even if you respond yes, it will still set you back those 30 minutes you will need to reinvest to get back in the zone again.
Therefore, one of the first things you need to do when you start working is to turn on the “Do not disturb” mode on your phone and computer.
This will limit the notifications to only the most essential and critical things you want to receive during your working hours.
5. Practice mindfulness and maximize your memory
Brain fog is one of the biggest problems today that leads to procrastination. Because we can’t remember our goals or the steps we have laid out in our heads, we tend to spend time just trying to recollect our thoughts and build those mind maps again.
However, instead of wasting precious time doing something redundant, start meditation. Meditation will help you get more in touch with your thoughts and help you calm your brain down to focus solely on the problem at hand.
Moreover, you must improve your memory to remember your plans and work on them accordingly. This will save you all the time you spend just trying to remember what you were supposed to do.
And yes, memory can be improved. Memory training is a basic technique that helps people in maximizing their memory. Moreover, a better memory can also help you with distractions that can’t be helped while you are working.
If there’s a critical impromptu meeting, your focus will be shattered. Still, once you get back to work, your great memory will tell you exactly where you left off and help you get back on track faster!
Just setting a specific time slot or a deadline for a task isn’t enough. You must ensure that you are focused enough to complete the job during that time instead of procrastinating or putting it aside.
However, if you struggle with that, many online resources can help you get more productive, like this tremendous personal productivity training course by Iris Reading.
Through this course, you can improve your time and attention management skills, which will help you improve your work performance and work-life balance.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for the course now!