Attention @work

“We have focused on managing our time. Our opportunity is to focus on how we manage our attention.” —Linda Stone



After having reached a fair level of personal organization (I’m still open to new ideas), my productivity focus is now set on attention. Attention itself, prolonged attention, undivided attention, preventing unjustified multitasking are currently on my top 10 list of topics. At some moment, your efficiency (not effectiveness, mind you *wink*) depends on how well you manage to concentrate, avoid distractions and return to your previous work should they occur.

Some proposals:

  • The most obvious – maintain an uncluttered environment (i.e. desk)
  • Avoid using Instant Messaging (if not blocked by the corp firewall, I usually ban myself from using it)
  • Don’t leave your e-mail software online (i.e. download e-mail at regular intervals instead of “Instant Messaging mode”)
  • Minimize efficiency barriers – have all the necessary tools at hand (e.g. a good search engine, decent / standardized folder structure and file naming convention etc.)
  • Always have your current action/task displayed (I use a floating Stickies’ window with the task name in the upper part of my screen)
  • Have the deliverable in mind instead of the action itself – it helps (perhaps adding info on deliverable in parenthesis would suit you?)
  • If you need to write a longer text, use… Darkroom
  • Make appointments with yourself (use a calendar to create “virtual” appointments – this works especially well during hectic periods)
  • If you work in an open space, keep your earphones (music) at hand
  • Track your time spent (it fosters better time usage)

Here’s an interesting note from someone I’d call “an inspiring radical” 🙂


“I apologize for refusing invitations to conferences. I travel rarely and only to vacation destinations. Otherwise I am entirely stationary. I attended my last conference here in Poznan in April 1999, and the last business meeting in Poznan in Summer 1999. I had my last business teleconference in Fall 1999. Today, I use only e-mail communication (see: E-mail vs. creativity and time-management), where I can apply incremental mail processing (see also: incremental reading). Freedom from meetings and deadlines makes it easier to use tasklists, proportional schedule, and adjust the timing of mental effort to the body clock.

Please do not see my refusal to attend important business meetings even in my home town of Poznan as unkind or a sign of not attaching sufficient importance to an issue in question.

For exactly same reasons as above, I do not have a mobile phone; not even for private purposes. Nor do I use Internet telephony. If I do not provide contact information, it is not of ill will. It is solely the question of time management. If I happen not to answer mail personally for a longer time, it comes from the fact that I frequently take “creative vacations” that may last a few months. In those periods, I intensely focus on one vital problem and work cut off from major distractions. I believe this attitude will be increasingly prevalent in creative professions. It is not dictated by lack of concern for others. It is dictated by efficiency! I apologize to anyone who feels offended.”


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