Is Focus the New Time Management?

Focus! Pay attention to how cute I look!

Focusing on the important things: getting that treat!

And an update on the February reading challenge

I look at the clock on my computer and realize its already 11 and I’m not quite sure what I accomplished in the first three hours of my day.

That’s not true. I know that I’ve answered a ton of emails, responded to IM’s and had 3–5 conversations over the phone or in-person.

I’m just not sure what I actually accomplished.

If you work in an office in the industrialized world you’ve likely experienced something similar. You can spend an entire day responding to email, text/Slack messages and “quick questions” without feeling that you accomplished anything.

The barrage of digital and physical distractions at the office is quickly reducing people’s effectiveness. Recent innovations in communication, like Slack, are meant to eliminate email but can become just as overwhelming as email. Add to this the prevailing feeling that “everything” is urgent and we have a situation where our employees are struggling to focus.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review puts the “focus” problem in the spotlight. If you have not already, make sure to read this article because it highlights how our focus problem can be part of larger organizational issues. If we need our teams to innovate and solve problems we need to go one step further than traditional time management techniques.

We Have To Go Further Than Traditional Time Management

Google being “helpful” by encouraging me to turn on another notification on my phone.

In the past we coached leaders on the importance of time management. The OG of Management theory, Peter Drucker identified “Managing Time” as an essential practice of the effective executive (if you have not already, check out his book, The Effective Executive ). Of time and time management he said:

“Time is the scarcest resource of the manager; If it is not managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Today I’m not sure that traditional time management is enough, I think we need to take traditional time management techniques a step further. We have to acknowledge we have a focus problem, find ways to fight the distractions and model better behavior throughout the organization.

Which Brings Me to My Book Reading Challenge

This month I am focusing on how to re-build focus in our organizations. It turns out there are some great books that explore this topic from a couple of different perspectives. The following books are on my reading list for this month:

I’m not sure I’ll be able to read three books, but I read about a book and a half last month (more on that to come later this month) so maybe I can get through a full two books?

What You Can Expect in March and April

This month I’m wrapping up a summary of my February reading (click here to see the titles I selected) and have some other fun posts planned. In April, I plan to give you my overview on teaching focus at your organization and I’m writing a special report for Performance I Create on paid time off.

What are you doing this month?

Originally published at HR reMix.

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