With the new surge in coronavirus cases and restrictions ramping up again, this time around things look a little different: people are experiencing pandemic fatigue. Most are tired of living in this National State of Emergency and many are collectively exhausted from the never-ending policies.
It’s challenging to manage your time when you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, or when you’re operating in reactive mode. Working professionals are challenged with new ways to focus their attention and spend their time. Regardless of where you’re working, in the office or at home, most people are battling pandemic fatigue and now is the time to master proactive time management.
Maura Thomas spoke at TEDx where she defined attention management as “the practice of controlling your attention; the ability to consciously direct your attention in any given moment, to be more proactive than reactive, and to maintain control rather than inadvertently relinquish it… Attention management empowers your productivity.”
At Pegasus, we partner with Stagen Leadership Academy to gain access to programs and resources designed to amplify our leadership skills, one resource being their Attention Management Module. As a company, we strive to maintain a learning culture and prioritize staying proactive even during trying times.
Missed deadlines, difficulty focusing, and chronic stress are just a few of the common symptoms of poor attention management. The Attention Zones Model (shown below) is a method of maximizing one’s productivity and effectiveness. The four zones explain the main ways we spend our time and attention.
The three arrows represent the three core practices to decrease stress and increase effectiveness:
Increase awareness in which zone you are in at any given moment.
Identify where you are paying your attention and expending your time. The Distraction and Waste Zones both undermine productivity. They are difficult to detect as they present themselves with urgency and false importance.
Avoid distractions and minimize waste by asserting boundaries and raising standards.
There are few techniques Stagen recommends:
- Stop multitasking. Multitasking gives partial attention to several activities simultaneously and does not increase productivity. Recent studies show that it reduces productivity by as much as 25-50 percent. Focus on one task at a time and complete it before beginning the next one.
- Prioritize your important tasks for the week. At the beginning of each week, take 20 minutes to review your priorities, goals, and projects.
- Create time blocks of related activities in your weekly schedule to avoid having to mentally “switch gears” every few minutes.
- Book appointments with yourself to work on specific projects, activities, or tasks. Treat these just like you would your most valued customer.
- Turn off automatic notifications. Turning off notifications on your mobile phone and computer for certain hours of the day will decrease the number of distractions you have.
Invest the time you’ve saved into being more proactive and strategic.
Of course, you cannot refuse to do activities in the Reactive Zone. However, by practicing avoiding distractions and minimizing waste using the techniques listed above, you can recover three to five hours a week to invest in being more proactive.
You will begin to manage your time better as you identify priorities and control distractions. When you implement these attention management practices, you will save your energy and focus on what matters most and reduce the stress and fatigue you are experiencing. You will regain control of your life and allow each day to be productive and effective.