How do I: deal with low attention spans

When there are a lot of distractions going on, it is hard to retain anyone’s attention. So how do I deal with periods of time like this?

People are busy. So am I. If you want someone’s attention, ping them on a scheduled basis to see when you can schedule a short amount of time with them. Now is not likely the best time and you will quickly realize that when asking for their time.

Scheduling short meetings will help retain more focus and attention than hour (or longer) droning meetings. Imagine if you cut the chatter out completely and limited meetings to 15 total minutes or 30 total minutes. The people who need to make a point will get to it much faster than during a 1 to 2 hour meeting.

Need a 5-minute buffer between calls for a breather, a bathroom break or to get a beverage? Add the 5 minutes to your schedule and cut the meeting to 25 minutes instead. Emphasize that hard stop time in the beginning of the meeting. Give a reminder when all of you have 5 minutes left and hold to the scheduled end time as if it was your religion. Need more time? Schedule another block of time in the future. Make sure to get to points you need to cover and add those to a meeting agenda beforehand as a prequel for everyone to prepare as needed.

Now imagine if only the people who need to be there are invited and everyone starts on time regardless of stragglers or late people (no matter how important they might be). Record the decisions made and email it to people who need to know. If decision-makers are not there, no sense in being in the meeting at all. Just reschedule. If decisions don’t need to be made, email the update, and don’t waste time with a meeting. If you need to verbally tell lots of people something, video record it and send it to them. Fewer distractions. More focus. This is easier when everyone is remote and you don’t have to waste time walking to any meeting room or waiting for it to clear out from the last meeting. I don’t miss the useless office.

This goes for home life too. Schedule time with your loved ones as well as friends and be clear when they get your scheduled attention. They will hold you to it since it should work for all parties or reschedule.

If you notice your metrics (social media traffic, website traffic, emails directed personally to you) drop significantly, it will be noticeable and it often happens seasonally. For example, the last week of the year or just before a major holiday or during the last weeks of an election, don’t expect anyone’s attention nor true focus. Their mind is elsewhere. Schedule a time afterward.

If you do find the time, focus, and ideas to work on, take that less disrupted time to work on self-assigned projects that mean something to you.

Shiny objects will keep appearing. Everyone is out to steal your attention away from you. Guard your time by ruthlessly filtering out distractions that you have no control over. Realize what you do and don’t control among the many things that take your attention and time away from you. What do you want to do with your own time and attention?

Tools I Use: One Calendar

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Time

How many sets of 24 hours do you have each day?  One 

So why should we use multiple calendars for scheduling all of our events?

Segment your time between work, personal (alone), family and friends with your schedule.

Yes, you can schedule your family and friends unless you find another 24 hour period per day.

Everyone has 24 hours per day, 1440 minutes per day and 168 hours per week.

What do you do with your time?

How do you use each hour of your life? Too many don’t care and waste it.

We are either productive or not.

We move the needle toward accomplishment or not.

We move the needle toward our own fulfillment or not.

I believe if I did not accomplish something every day, the day is wasted and that is hurtful to at least one person. You.

Even if I am sick or on vacation, that is not an excuse.

Track your time

How many calendars and scheduling tools do you use to track your time, all your meetings (personal/professional), all your calls and everything else in your day?

I know too many people who use nothing for their own personal schedule and a work schedule applied by their workplace. That is not time tracking nor time management.

Without time management,  we create excuses like “I am so busy” or “I don’t have time”.

The fact is we choose how we spend our time. We choose when we get up and go to bed. We choose when we eat. We even choose when we go to the bathroom.

There is plenty of time management advice about focusing on 1 thing or top 3 things per day.

I take a different approach.

Use one calendar for all of my time. Google Calendar follows me everywhere for all of my time.

Thoughts on Paper

Forget paper calendars. I know too many people who repeatedly lose their little agenda or don’t even travel with it.  Which makes it a useless afterthought.

Hanging in my office is a really nice, big paper wall calendar which was designed by the late Massimo Vignelli. It is very nice decor, but I do not use it.

Change

When you need to shift your calendar events because someone reschedules, how do you handle that?

Simply confirm a new date/time and drag the existing event to the new date/time on Google Calendar. Done.

A calendar change takes one finger on your smartphone. Yes, you can play “Calendar Tetris” by moving calendar time blocks as needed.

If the calendar tool we use is inflexible and cannot handle iteration, change the calendar you are using. Do not wait for change to happen to you. Seek it ahead of the change so you understand it better than after it happens to you. No whining. No excuses. Use your time more wisely. We can all make the time we need based on our own priorities. After all, it is your time. All 168 hours every week. How are you using your time?

Want to know how I schedule meetings and save time doing so? Read this.

Questions?

Tools I Use: Scheduling

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Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I have saved so much time scheduling calls or meetings because of no back and forth using assistant.to

It is simple to use with Gmail along with Google Calendar. And it is free to use.

If you don’t want to be limited to just Gmail nor picking times yourself that would work for you in the future, I have saved even more time by allowing people to schedule time with me based on my calendar availability for Zoom.us calls using calendly.com.

The combination of zoom for calls and calendly.com save countless hours each week.

Yes, if you really want to discuss something productive for 15 minutes with me, schedule the time here and you will see what I mean.

If I need to schedule a group of people (3+) together for a virtual group meeting days or weeks in advance and want to offer a few choices in dates and times, I use zvite.co which is free to use.

There are some other appointment scheduling apps available if you prefer to do your own research.

Questions?