Focus: a productivity’s best friend

“You think because you understand ‘one’ you must also understand ‘two’, because one and one make two. But you must also understand ‘and’.” – Rumi51bv2o2gtml__sx326_bo1204203200_

Written more 700 years ago, resonates more and more with me these days, with an inner and outer focus.

Ann Flanagan Petry writes about it with surgeon precision: “In the workplace, we often fall into just the trap that Rumi describes. We think that because we understand how to be busy accomplishing tasks (one) we also understand how to be effective in our work (two). So, we focus on agendas, “to do” lists, and clearing out our in-box. But when we do that, we are missing out on the quiet yet critical, “and” in the equation: the powerful force of mindful self-awareness.

Attention span is the length of time you’re able to concentrate on a single activity before becoming distracted. The longer you’re able to sustain attention, the more likely you are to gain depth and quality in things like learning or creating. This impacts work and life in a myriad of ways, from increasing productivity to being able to express the best of what we have to offer. But how can we improve our attention span effectively?” (“Improve Your Attention Span Through Self-Awareness”).

Swiftly drafting Terms of Reference distracted to scribble  a project work plan and to respond to an email may sound a familiar part from ‘a-day-in-the-life-of-a-project-manager”. And to make it even farer from mindfulness, much, if not all of the above, is done in parallel, competing with the demands of the hyper-vigilance to attend to texts and social media. I do not contest there might be highly efficient people able to do it all and stay away from the “surprise” of the myriad of (re)work that follows, impacting the efficiency and job satisfaction. At personal and team level.

Becoming aware about it, either through introspection or during the job appraisal, is a first step. There are a number of corrective approaches to improve our attention span.  See for example, work by Ann Flanagan Petry v

Or watch Daniel Goleman on Focus: The Secret of High Performance and Fulfilment. Preferably without being distracted 🙂


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