Attention and Productivity

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This editorial is a little different but is also connected to health management and wellbeing. You see many, many people feel frustrated and agitated about just not getting things done. Procrastination and deviation, as well as focus absence drags us away from completing or in many cases even starting tasks. The result in many cases is an insidious sense of lack of productivity and associated satisfaction.

Some, may have rationalised that this is who they are and have settled into a state of contentment, but for many days conclude with a nagging sense of failure… in which tasks that were planned, at least in early hours have somehow fallen by and as such have not been completed or actioned – and there they sit, irritatingly difficult to remove from the conscious and pervasively eroding joy, satisfaction and progress.

Perhaps you recognise some of these feelings and have evolved various methods to try to reduce or eliminate this pervasive need to complete tasks or have worked up effective ‘to do list’ strategies and time management processes. But if not, or if still looking to enhance outcome management further consider ‘attention management’ rather than time management to attain task completion related joy!

You see attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments: Prioritising the people and projects that matter, and you will soon discover it won’t matter how long anything takes.

Productivity struggles are frequently a consequence of a lack of motivation rather than a lack of efficiency! Productivity is in itself not a virtue. It’s a means to an end. It’s only virtuous if the end is worthy. If productivity or output alone is your goal, you inevitably have to rely on substantive willpower to push yourself to get a task done. If, however, you pay attention to why you’re excited about the project and who will benefit from it, you’ll be naturally pulled into it by intrinsic motivation and creation and development will be easier – and related output increase. Therefore, appointments with clients can seem to go far too quickly – interest in reaching a mutual solution can make time compress – and as a result why it’s so important to manage that time effectively.

How do you get the best of both worlds? Well some scientists suggest your circadian rhythm can help you figure out the right time to do your productive and creative work. As an example, if you’re a morning person, analytical work should be undertaken early when you’re at peak alertness; your routine tasks around lunchtime in your trough; and your creative work in the late afternoon or evening when you’re more likely to do your evolved and inventive thinking. If you’re more of a night owl, you might be better off reversing creative projects to your expansive mornings and analytical tasks to late afternoon and evening time slots.

It’s not time management that needs to be focussed on, because you might spend the same amount of time on the tasks even after you rearrange your diary. It’s your attention management: You’re identifying the order of tasks that works for you and adjusting to optimise this pattern accordingly.

Now you have begun to consider timings and motivation, what else could you add to the mix to ensure a satisfying physical and intellectual experience every day? Well, you already know that short term pursuit of stimulant induced activity has short, medium- and long-term consequences. Not all of them helpful. Remember each organ has a unique metabolic profile and in order to function optimally will need micro and macro nutrients of the highest bioavailability and quality – so choosing seasonal and fresh foods makes a great start, supplementing with micronutrients can also add functionality especially if deficiencies or increased needs are present. Fatty acids, and adequate lipids and proteins are also essential to brain function, despite its primary fuel being derived from carbohydrate.

In the pursuit of personal productivity and enhanced satisfaction many factors come into play, but why not see if attention management adds an extra fizz to your output?

2 Comments. Leave new

  • This is definitely a good picture of me, currently! It IS frustrating. My brain works best on important, detailed work mid afternoon until about 10pm… but that’s the exact time period where I’m needed to run around after my kids, cook and eat dinner and spend time with my husband!
    How can I adapt my “clock” to work more effectively in the mornings, please??!!

    • Michael Ash
      5, April 2019 11:32

      Changing sleep timings – earlier to bed and earlier to rise, some adrenal support prior to sleep may be worth exploring, but would need to titrate to avoid feeling too sleepy too early.

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