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To Control Your Life, Control What You Pay Attention To

https://hbr.org/2018/03/to-control-your-life-control-what-you-pay-attention-to

hbr.org

To Control Your Life, Control What You Pay Attention To
Executive Summary Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Rather than allowing distractions to derail you, choose where you direct your attention at any given moment, based on an understanding of your priorities and goals.

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William James

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Attention Management

Attention Management

It's is the practice of controlling distractions, being present in the moment, finding flow, and maximizing focus, so you can create a life of choice, around things that are important to you.

It is the ability to recognize when your attention is being stolen (or has the potential to be stolen) and to instead keep it focused on the activities you choose. 

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Choosing What You Attend To

Choosing What You Attend To

Attention management offers a deliberate approach that puts you back in control, by managing both external and internal factors.

Practicing attention management means fighting back against the distractions and creating opportunities throughout your day to support your priorities. 

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Controlling External Factors

Controlling External Factors
  • Control your technology: it’s there to serve you, not the other way around. As often as possible and especially when you’re working, keep your phone silent and out of sight.
  • Control your environment. Set boundaries with others, especially in an open-office setting. For example, use headphones or put up a “do not disturb” sign when you need to focus.

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Controlling Internal Factors

Controlling Internal Factors
  • Control your behavior: for example, open only one window on your computer screen, and give your full attention to one task until it’s complete, or until a designated stopping point. 
  • Control your thoughts: practice noticing when your mind is veering off in its own direction, and gently guide your focus back to where you want it. 

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“Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

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The 2 kinds of distractions

  • Sensory distractions (External): The things happening around us, like colleagues talking, phones ringing, people moving around us, music playing, etc.
  • Emotional distractions (Internal): The thoughts that make our attention drift from what we’re doing. For example, remembering a phone call you need to make or thinking about a future meeting.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman

“It’s not the chatter of people around us that is the most powerful distractor, but rather the chatter of our own minds.”

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What's Most Important To You

Before you can set your priorities, you need to figure out exactly what they are. 

"You have limited time and energy, so you need to determine what your top two priorities are at any giv...

Create An Action Plan

Take a few moments to create a plan of where you would like to see yourself in the next couple of months or years. 

Align those dreams with your priorities to help you focus on making your wishes come true. 

Designate Specific Time Slots For Tasks

It's important to remember to set time aside for things that truly matter to you. 

Whatever it is, you won't feel fulfilled if you constantly put other things before your own happiness.

Understand Your Performance Evaluation

Find out if your performance evaluation is according to what you understand. Identify your goals and key performance indicators with your manager, and discuss accordingly.

Solve your Blind Spots

Ask for feedback, learn from it and adjust your performance (or behavior) according to the areas of improvement that you get to know from others.

Example: After giving a presentation, talk about what went well and ask if there is something that you could have done better.

Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal with a record of your learnings and feedback (areas of improvement) can keep us on the right path, and speed up our progress, and learning too.

Listing out 5 or 10 areas of improvement and tracking the progress in weekly or monthly reviews is a great way to develop your career.