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Guest Contributor

Managing Your Time: Try a Focused Approach

Effectively managing your time takes commitment. Yet, the rewards of managing your time effectively are well worth the effort.

Many time management strategies suggest that you make an appointment with yourself to complete a task, helping you to manage your time. The problem with this strategy is that it’s so easy to break the appointment with yourself. No one is affected by this break except for yourself, so why worry about it, right?


Take a slightly different approach to this time management tactic:

  • Focus on keeping your attention on the task that needs to be completed during that time instead. Merely keeping an appointment with yourself does not help you to complete a task. Especially if that task is not one for which you are held accountable except for to yourself.

Many people complain of continual interruptions when they are trying to get things accomplished. Research has shown that it takes about 23 minutes to regain your workflow if you are interrupted. You may end up feeling that you just need to be left alone to get things done but sabotage yourself by allowing attention to wander. So, your well-intentioned appointment with yourself is wasted.


How to keep your attention focused on the task at hand.

  • Do not get distracted by technology. Now that news is immediately available from various sources and personal contact with others is immediate. it’s difficult to keep from being distracted by news breaks, texts, and calls. Pick your time to catch up. Do not turn your attention to the news distractions. Turn off notifications. Close browser windows so that email isn’t open. Put away your phone. Find ways to remove the temptation to peek at emails, texts, tweets, webpages, etc.
  • Communicate expectations for others when you need time to get things done. You can ask to be left alone and be specific about why. Let others know that you are focusing your attention on whatever the task is. Let them know that you are being firm about spending your attention on a specific task only. Then focus by closing your door, putting on headphones (but be careful what you listen to-make sure it also doesn’t distract). Make sure notifications are off and disconnect from other information sources. Pick specific, limited amounts of time to give others access as needed while you are focusing your attention on something.
  • During times that you are not actively involved in a task, you should allow your mind to wander. This is when you get ideas or solve problems. Just because you aren’t working on a specific task doesn’t mean that it is not processing in your brain.
  • Be aware of what your attention can work on at a given time. If your mind is just not able to focus on one task, you may find that your attention is best focused on another. Don’t allow this to be determined by distractions. This should be determined by how your attention can best be used at any given time.
  • When you focus your attention on a task, work on it until you have completed what you set out to do. If it’s a large task, break it into manageable pieces that you can call complete. Give the task your full attention. Don’t be tempted to multi-task.
  • Practice! It may take a while to get used to focusing your attention with no distractions. It may take a while to feel accomplished while NOT multi-tasking, but you are likely to find that productivity increases when you focus on one thing at a time.