5 Steps to “really” reclaim our attention at work
In the previous post we started our journey by auditing how we spend our attention on external triggers. We looked at deliberately blocking out key triggers that take us away from what is truly important. In this post, we will delve into the world of internal triggers, learn how to guard against them, and engage in deep work.
Attention management is the practice of controlling distractions, being present in the moment, finding flow, and maximizing focus, so that you can unleash your genius. It’s about being intentional instead of reactive. - Maura Thomas from her Attention Management article
We’re well past the days of time management. Today, it's all about attention management. And what we need more than ever before are new strategies and ways of thinking to manage our attention better.
So, how do we accomplish deep work amidst all the distractions coming from within our very own minds? Here are two key strategies we propose, to do precisely that. Our attention is like a muscle too, the more we practice it, the better we get at it. So let’s jump right in.
Step 4: Deep work with Timeboxes & singular Focus
Timeboxing is a way for us to schedule chunks (boxes) of our time to do deep work, deliberately and intentionally. The aim is to create an internal environment that facilitates deep work during this timebox. We enter the timebox with a clear intention to devote complete attention and energy towards the task at hand and nothing else. To say no to multi-tasking passionately.
The myth of multitasking has been fairly and squarely busted in the 21st century by several experts. We are in the era of conserving our energy to do deep work with mono-tasking. And timeboxing is the best way to do just that.
You could use a simple kitchen timer for this or just type “15 min timer” on google. We also like Pomofocus, Pomodone among several apps out there.
Step 5: Dealing with the trickiest distraction machine
Having taken all the measures starting from self-introspection to blocking out distractions and timeboxing our work, the ultimate distraction machine resides inside of us, not outside - our minds. If external notifications seem to bother us, the seemingly innocuous internal notifications from our very own minds can take our attention and energy away from what truly matters to us at the present moment in a second.
Taming our minds is the need of the hour and most of us take it for granted. The mind can be a great friend, but a mind that is not anchored in the present moment, that is bothered by the stressors from the past & the anxiety of the future, can be our biggest foe.
The onus is on us to use strategies to keep bringing the mind back to the present moment. We must do this with the awareness and acceptance that it oscillates every time we are not truly aware. This takes a bit of practice at first. But once we get good at it, we become unstoppable.
The practice of mindfulness could be our best friend, as we exercise our minds and train our attention. We strongly recommend that we take periodic breaks during the day to bring our awareness back to the present moment. The perfect time to practice mindfulness is before we get into our deep work zones or timeboxes to ward off distractions. And to use mindfulness to transition out of work is also a great strategy to stay present in our interactions in other dimensions of our life.
If you are new to mindfulness we would strongly recommend the Oak meditation App, it’s free and it’s darn simple to use. Feel free to use Headspace or Calm or any other strategy really, if you are already doing the work. What we have noticed is we really reap the benefits when we enjoy the practice of mindfulness and we do it diligently over a period of time. Wishing you good luck with your practice towards higher states of calm productivity :).
In summary, we have gone through a step-by-step process to audit our attention and energy to gain a better understanding of how we use them, effectively or ineffectively. We then went about consciously managing what we pay attention to. We also learned about timeboxing for our deep work sessions so that we mono-task with complete focus and attention. Then we learned that our best friend and our nemesis can still be our mind and we learned that every strategy is futile if we do not take care of our minds. Mindfulness as a strategy to raise our awareness and being in the present moment is something we can deploy through our workday to make the most of our attention and energy. It will not be an easy journey, but like all things good, it's definitely worth the experiments and effort. So good luck my friend.
Kudos to your attention if you made it to this point. It is quite clear that you are deeply interested and working actively towards reclaiming your attention and energy. More power to you and we would love to stay connected with you on your journey. Do share with us how you are faring with your personal process in the comments section.
You could also join our community waitlist here on Turia.ai to continue the discussion and we will reach out :).