We live in a culture obsessed with productivity. We spend time reading books on how to get things done and dream of four-hour workweeks. The key to get things done is time management but it is just one part of the solution.
Most people ask: how do I get more done? There are a limited number of hours in the day and focusing on time management just makes us more aware of how many of those hours we waste. A different perspective on how to become more productive comes from attention management: prioritise the people and projects that truly matter to get results. Attention management is the art of focusing on how to get things done for the right reasons, in the right places, and at the right moments.
Raise your awareness
Time management says we should eliminate distractions altogether, not just interruptions from other people but also the times when we interrupt ourselves. If you are getting sucked into social media, you would need to stop your actions and refocus on your work. Attention management offers an alternative: be thoughtful about the timing of those distractions. Be conscious about what you do and embrace unproductive activities if you decide to engage in them.
Protect your motivation
The truth is that our productivity struggles are caused not by a lack of efficiency but by a lack of motivation. Productivity is a means to an end. If productivity is your goal, you have to rely on willpower to push yourself to get a task done. If you pay attention to why you are excited about the project and who will benefit from it, you will be naturally pulled into it by intrinsic motivation.
Eat the frog in the morning
Attention management demands us to look at the timing. Most of our productivity challenges are about tasks that we do not want to do but that we need to do. Most entrepreneurs I had the pleasure to exchange thoughts with eat the frog in the morning. They power through a boring task, while saving their most exciting tasks as a reward for afterward. It is not about time but about timing.
A last advice: if you are trying to be more productive, do not analyse how you spend your time. Become aware of what consumes your attention.