“I’m so tired.”
“I feel like I can’t focus.”
“Why can’t I get anything done today?”
Any of these sound familiar? If so, you’re going to be happy you read this post. This week, I’m going to speak to attention and distraction, and what those two things have to do with time management.
I truly believe that not being able to get things done—or burning yourself out from piling too much on your plate—is not actually a time management problem. I firmly believe that this is actually a distraction and attention management problem. Let me explain why…
You’ve probably heard this annoying phrase: “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.” I get it, I do—I don’t like to hear it either. However, it is true. We all have the same amount of time in the day, but it’s the way we utilize and maximize that time that differs from person to person. That utilization speaks to our relationship with attention management, and our relationship with distraction management.
I could talk about attention management for days. You may not know it, but attention management has everything to do with energy and energy management. You cannot manage your energy well without having a good relationship to distraction and attention management.
Now, what do I mean by having a good relationship with attention management? Let me explain: when it comes to attention, we only have so much of it to spend.
To give something your attention is to focus on it. And when you’re focusing on something, you can only focus on that one thing. You can’t have your attention straying into a million different places, unless you’re a truly impressive multitasker.
Generally, if you have your attention on multiple things at once…guess what? Something’s going to end up compromised. If you’re trying to juggle a dozen tasks, I’s nearly inevitable that a ball is going to get dropped.
Let’s say you have a goal that you’re working on. Maybe there’s a work project you need to get done, or maybe you’re a business owner with certain tasks you want to complete throughout the week.
Let’s say you’re in the middle of one of those tasks when suddenly, you get a ping on your phone. It’s a text message from your friend or your cousin or whoever. Immediately, you get the urge to answer right away, because it’s in front of you. And if you don’t answer right away, what if they feel neglected? What if they think you’re “mean” for not prioritizing them?
However, once you open the phone, it becomes a slippery slope. They’re designed to pull us in and keep us scrolling, and it becomes a little tour you have to complete before you can get back to work. You check Twitter. You hop on Instagram and answer a DM, because oh well, you’re already holding the phone. Might as well get that out of the way. Oh, another notification!
It spirals and spirals and spirals from there. Fast forward an hour or two, and you’ve not only drained your time and attention into this for too long, you’ve also poured a heap of energy into tasks that simply didn’t need to get done right then.
Some of this comes from a place of people-pleasing energy. For instance, maybe you meant to answer that text message later, but instead, you accidentally tap on it. It opens, and now you’ve activated read receipts. There’s an immediate feeling of urgency that kicks in here, right? Now they know you saw it, so what’s it going to look like if you let it sit? They might think you’re ignoring them. You have to answer right now.
The reality? You don’t. It’s totally okay to let it sit for a hot second, all right? I promise. People understand. You’ll get back to it.
This is why people pleasing goes into attention management as well. Are you giving your attention to things and people because you feel like you have to? That’s an automatic energy drain.
Remember, we only have so much energy in a day.
Imagine you have an energy battery or an energy bucket or something like that, and as you’re giving your attention to different things, you are depleting it. You’re depleting it and depleting it and depleting it, and there’s no stopping to refill. You just keep going. This is why at the end of the day, when you finish work or finish up with your business tasks, you feel like you can’t do anything but pass out on the couch. You’re just so tired.
“I’m so tired.” How often do you say that? If you’re saying it at the end of every day, it might just be a sign of poor attention management.
Are you able to cook yourself a nourishing meal at the end of the day? Are you able to do things around the house or around your room at the end of the day? Or are you too tired to function at all because you’ve allowed yourself to put your attention toward all these different things as opposed to the things you want to put your attention toward?
My tip for you to work on your attention management is to start small. Start by forcing yourself to open a message, trigger the read receipts, then let it sit. Start with that, and then get to it when you have a minute. It’s good to start training yourself to let tasks sit when it isn’t their time to be done.
Of course, you don’t want attention management to turn into a thing of spite. You don’t want to turn it into a negative thing where you’re being selfish with your time. You don’t want that energy. You really want the energy of attention management to be genuine.
That’s my first tip: start making sure you have an awareness around your attention management and where your attention is going, and start finding ways to have good stewardship over the energy that you’re given.
The second facet of improving your time management is actually distraction management in addition to attention management.
Burnout actually has everything to do with energy management as opposed to external factors, but that doesn’t mean we can allow external factors in willy-nilly. There are many distractions in society, and how we’re responding to them can actually contribute to burnout.
We talked about the phone pings, right? Those are the perfect example of a distraction. Do you have a habit of stopping whatever it is you’re doing to respond to that ping? Not because you want to and have the capacity to, but because you feel like you have to?
That’s one thing I recommend you train yourself out of. I didn’t used to be good at this, but I’m now in a place where I can look at my phone, see messages on Slack from my team or messages from clients or even my boyfriend, and I no longer feel the impulse to respond immediately. Instead, I see it, acknowledge it, and let it sit until I’m ready to respond…when I want to, not when I feel obligated to.
The reason distraction is such an energy zapper is because your attention is now hopping around to multiple different places. It’s giving hopscotch energy. Have you ever played hopscotch? All that jumping around will leave you out of breath and exhausted in no time, and mental hopscotch (or even digital hopscotch, if you share my bad habit of jumping between apps!) is no different.
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Like I said before, I could talk about attention management all day, which is exactly why I’m so, so excited for Attention Deficit, a program I have coming up just around the corner in November! In that program, I’m going to be teaching boundaries around time. All of us actually have a different energetic capacity for what we can handle on the daily, so it’s a very individual thing.
I can’t wait to get into setting boundaries with time and energy management according to your unique energy load. We’re also going to do some human design stuff.
In addition to that, Indulgent AF, the course, is coming up in December, and it’s all about managing abundance. That involves managing an abundance of time or getting to a place where your time becomes abundance. Even though we all have the same amount of time each day, because you’re a better steward of it, you will be able to rework your view of it in the context of abundance.
They’re being sold as a bundle, and you can find them right here: https://beatricekamau.com/indulgentaf
Want to say goodbye to procrastination, feeling out of control and scarce with your money, and struggling with time management? You need ATTENTION PLEASE, a free limited private podcast series! You can get access here: https://beatricekamau.com/attentionplease
Be sure to connect with me more on Instagram @theselflovefix. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were.
Head over to my website to learn more about how we can work together to shift your energy & transform your life.