Time Management? Not Any More

“Knowledge is power,” Francis Bacon said. So did Hobbes. (Not Calvin’s friend, the other one. Thomas.)  I’m not sure it is anymore. Knowledge is easily available–we can now check up on facts much faster than in the days we had to go to the library and look up a book or article. Of course, we also have to spend some time sifting through drek to find the knowledge. But still, it’s easy to access knowledge.

What is important, however, is attention span. That is in danger of disappearing.

The star-eating chicken  Ink on paper. © Quinn McDonald

The star-eating chicken Ink on paper. © Quinn McDonald

Attention span is power.

Which jumps me to time management. It’s not time we need to manage, it our attention. Choosing what needs attention, how much attention, listening to what needs to be done, paying close attention on completing  the steps needed to complete the task–that’s attention management. It’s easier to start six things, jump from one task to another, add household tasks while we are doing office chores, avoiding creative work because we pretend the laundry needs our time–time management vanishes when we begin to practice attention management.

Attention management allows you to separate “urgent” from “important.” Both need attention, but mot of the time, we suppress “important” for “urgent” because “urgent” has our reputation on the line, and “important” isn’t “urgent” yet.

Yep, I’m pretty sure that attention management is a skill that can solve problems and help us get work done. And allow for play. Which is the whole point.

–Quinn McDonald believes that play is real work.

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19 thoughts on “Time Management? Not Any More

  1. It’s one reason our ancestors were taught such things as hand sewing and knitting in school: it taught concentration and patience. I’m not sure it is attention span that is needed nowadays: watch a kid on a video game and they’re glued for hours, but ask them to attend to a chore and they’re all over the place. Multitasking is very much overrated: it means that you’re dividing your attention to many things instead of concentrating at the task at hand. People talk about getting into the ‘zone’ when they’re doing art, but you can get there in any activity if you’re applying your full attention to it. Flylady.net taught me to apply full attention to small housework chores over a short period of time to reach a really well-cleaned and ordered home. Now I have plenty of time for other things.

    • Attention span is what we need, though. It teaches, as you said, patience and concentration. Interrupt a knitter and the knitter will pick up the needles again after the interruption. Interrupt a video game player and there will be screaming, tears and accusation. It’s a different kind of attention span. Flylady has an enthusiastic following.

  2. Information is not the same as knowledge. We seem to think that learning trivial information is a significant accomplishment and it isn’t really unless we win on Who wants to be a millionaire.

  3. Grasping the situation you’re in, and whether less or more attention will be better or more powerful in that situation, is power.

  4. Every time I’m ready to get worried about people’s decreasing attention spans, I remember that there was, a while back, condemnation of some new-fangled things because they’d ruin everyone’s abilities to think and remember. Those things were writing and reading.

  5. Well the FUNNY Hobbes (or possibly it was Calvin, which is possibly the same thing) said:
    “Aaugh! It’s a half-hour later than it was half an hour ago! Run! Run!”

  6. Yes! The attention span and the creativity to implement all the knowledge that’s at you findertips is crucial. There is no shortcut to perseverence (my journal page quote for today I think).
    What is “urgent” and what is “important” had me thinking too . . . hmmm more thinking to do about that. I know I fit in the “important” pile . . . and I think I’m becoming “urgent” as well. 🙂

  7. I often try to fool myself that poor attention management is actually good time management as it means I am multitasking and getting more done.
    Busted!

  8. Lovely short post. Attention – the ability to pay sustained attention to something or someone – is real, sustainable power.

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