Time Management is Dead! Attention Management is the Skill You Need

Award-winning international speaker, trainer, and author Maura Thomas, a 20+ veteran of the industry, believes that attention management is the new path to productivity.

Maura has been studying and teaching attention management skills as an integral component in peak productivity (what she calls Empowered Productivity) for almost half of her 20+ years in the productivity industry. She was recognized for her work on attention management with an invitation to deliver a TEDx Talk on the subject. Click the image below to watch a short excerpt of the talk entitled, “Control Your Attention, Control Your Life!”

Maura covers attention management in depth in her 2012 book from Wiley, Personal Productivity Secrets: Do more than you ever thought possible with your time and attention, and regain control of your life!, and her upcoming: Work Without Walls: An Executive’s Guide to Attention Management in the Age of Distraction.

Attention Management is the Most Important Skill for the 21st Century.
Control Your Attention, Control Your Life

“What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Nobel Prize winning economist Herbert Simon.

Time management used to be very similar to attention management.  If you designated some time on your calendar to attend to something, it was more likely that thing would get done.  This was back before the digital revolution so thoroughly changed the way information is generated and shared.  In other words, before there were so many distractions.  Now, the world is constantly available at our fingertips, with the plethora of radio, television, internet, scrolling marquees, skywriting & advertising, not to mention new ways to instantly communicate, and handheld digital devices that are becoming more and more omnipresent.  Allocating time to something no longer means that it will receive your attention, and without attention, your time is somewhat irrelevant.  Attention creates action, produces quality and facilitates productivity.  Attention also has a dramatic impact on your life.  What you give your attention to, is what determines your experiences.

Your Attention Determines Your Life

Think about it…there are entire cultures built around subjects that probably don’t even register with you.  Don’t you know people who are involved in things you know nothing about?  Perhaps its monster trucks, vampires, science fiction, or quantum physics.  There are people whose lives revolve around subjects that are barely a blip on your radar.  Those people give their attention to those topics, and therefore have experiences around them.  And you do the same.  So, as William James noted, “your experience is what you agree to attend to.”  And all of those experiences eventually add up to your life. But most of the time, you don’t agree to give your attention; you are just constantly distracted and reacting to all of those things that are vying for your attention. If that’s true for you, then maybe you do not have as much control over your life as you might like. This is why attention management is today’s most valuable skill.

So stop worrying about “time management.” It’s not relevant anymore. Instead, consider attention management. Invest in your focus. Support your attention by minimizing distractions. Single task. Learn to meditate. Shut your phone off sometimes, or at least use the Do Not Disturb feature. Put it on silent, NOT vibrate. Close your office door if you have one. Wear headphones if you don’t. Stop sabotaging your own focus and attention span, and start supporting your ability to control your attention.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
George Lucas

For more on attention management, click here to peruse some articles, or watch the full TEDx Talk on attention management here. If you’re interested in productivity training for your organization that incorporates attention management, click here, or read Maura’s article in the Harvard Business Review about why Time Management Training Doesn’t Work. If you’re interested in hiring Maura to speak on attention management as the new path to productivity, for your organization, meeting, conference, or retreat, click here.