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Quit Managing Your Time... and Start Managing Your Attention

Lee J. Colan, David Cottrell

August 12, 2009

"The myth of time management never dies. Many people enroll in 'time management' classes and learn techniques like making to-do lists. That's fine. Lists can be useful, even satisfying. It's great to experience that rush—Ahhhh!—as we check something off the list. However, by the end of the day, or the week, or the month, most people discover projects that are still not checked off and some projects they haven't even started. That's when frustration begins to set in. The time is gone, and there's no way to get it back. You can't manufacture time, you can't reproduce time, you can't slow time down or turn it around and make it run in the other direction. You can't trade bad hours for good ones, either. About all the time management you can do is to cram as much productive work as possible into each day. What you can manage, however, is your attention. Attention is a resource we all possess. It's a lot like time. In fact, as long as we are awake, we produce a continuous stream of it. But how effectively do we use this valuable resource? That depends on where we direct our attention and how intensely we keep it focused to produce the desired results."

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