Attention is the only thing you need to manage
“We are what we pay attention to, and almost nothing influences our productivity and creativity as much as the information we’ve consumed in the past” — Chris Bailey
Most of us don’t know how to manage our attention and hence our focus. We drift from our paths and do random things and waste our time.
Time wastage is the consequence of not managing our focus well. We try to manage our time, but what we really need is to manage our attention.
I am writing this story from a perspective of a software developer. As a programmer, I have wasted a lot of my time thinking about things, ideas, concepts, and consuming useless content.
To change your relationship with time you need to learn to manage your focus.
Create time for yourselves and your gigs
You must have heard people talk about side hustles you can do as a software developer. A few years ago, I believed I would pursue a side hustle if I have time.
To create time for yourselves and to do something extra for yourselves, you need to focus on the problems at hand and finish them up in time. This creates abundance of time for you.
Timebox all activities
Define a time for all your activities, starting from waking up to your workout to meals to meetings to uninterrupted coding sessions to phone calls and sleep.
I follow timeboxing, I put all my activities of the day in Google Calendar. I was introduced to this idea by a great book called Indistractable by Nir Eyal. Nir recommends — timebox everything. You need to allocate time to your family and friends in your calendar as well.
I highly recommend getting rid of unnecessary meetings and timeboxing the unavoidable ones. Finish them in time.
Have uninterrupted work sessions for at least 2–3 hours a day. Let your teammates know about your schedule so that they don’t interrupt you.
Plan your day and analyze it at EOD
“If you don’t PLAN YOUR DAY, somebody is going to plan it for you. The social media companies, the news, your boss, your kids, somebody is going to take up the time in your day unless you decide in advance HOW YOU WANT TO SPEND YOUR TIME.” — Nir Eyal
You might feel that you are busy throughout the day, you have a lot of work. But once you start planning and analyzing your day, you will come to a conclusion that you have enough time to do a lot more.
At the end of the day, if you analyze your achievements of the day, you get to know what you are doing wrong and how you should plan your next day. This is a continuous process, and you improve your planning and execution over time.
Take breaks — Pomodoro Technique
When it comes to managing your attention span, Pomodoro Technique helps you to a great extent.
You typically break your work into 25 minutes sessions of work and 5 minutes of break. The idea behind the technique is the usual attention span a human can get is around 25 minutes.
And if you put an alarm at 25 minutes intervals, you get a cue to analyze if you are focusing on the problem at hand or deviating from it. It gives you a chance to get back to the tasks that are important.
“The World is fast changing and until you learn to adapt and adjust to stand out from the masses, you will fade out into oblivion.” — Bernard Kelvin Clive
In a world where new technology breaks the barrier every day, you need to learn new skills more frequently than ever. Technologies that were booming a few years ago are not phasing out.
To keep up with this fast-changing world you need to cope and keep learning new skills and technologies.
These are the mantras that I follow and have helped me to focus on my work and to build 2–3 side hustles along with my 9–5.
It might take a while before you see significant changes and benefits in your work life or life in general. But if you keep doing this for a few days you will be more focused, will achieve more, and most importantly you will have more time at your disposal.
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