Mansoor just touched on a productivity trick that surprisingly I’ve been using a lot recently as well – he calls it "Selective Amnesia" and I just call it Attention Loadshedding and I was surprised to see that the technique is the same, even if we’re both applying it to different cirumstances.
There is a running joke in my firm and within people who speak to me that I feel like I do "32 hours of work every day" – there is just so many different threads going on all the time that even if I mastered how I click and use the keyboard of my computer (with shortcuts – e.g. clicking an app and before it loads doing 1-2 more things), am able to do 2-3 things at the same time (e.g. listening to someone’s conversation, reading a story and cilcking somewhere else), or racing my mind to stay conscious and in the moment all the time, and even if I spent 24 hours, there are still days when I feel like the work wont get done.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I love the work I do, the fact that I’m able to contribute towards the creation of new thought, new ideas, new ways of looking at the world; that my company is at the forefront of all that their doing and that our work can potentially have a pretty strong impact on the markets, cultures or dynamics we cover (e.g. the fact that people tell me that professional blogging in PK started pretty much because of Green & White’s example, which is quite an honor.).
But there is some downsides to doing things that are really meaningful in life – and attention loadshedding is a way of dealing with it. Read on for more details on the trick.
The world we live is getting faster, more integrated, and deeper at an unprecedented rate – think about it: how much information does a company, i.e. a group of people, have to process collectively as a group in order to make a product as significant as say the iphone, or the PS3, or your average car or other electronic equipment today.
How much more information do people now have to absorb every day before we are able to get our work done – access to information was easy enough with Google and search engines, but it can just become a torrent or flood with social networks and communities where people are always, constantly sharing things with you to cover.
Multiply that with the many different contexts that we’re beginning to juggle with – the fact, e.g. that most of the writers at G&W are involved in multiple companies or things; the fact that we’re not just delivering projects, we’re blogging, we’re participating in virtual social activities and professional networks, we’re building up our personal brands, we’re selling everything we’re a part of to build our credibility.
So many contexts – I’m a consumer of something, an evangelists of something, an activist for something, a producer of something, an editor of thought, an owner of the work under my care, a caregiver to clients, families …. the list goes on?
All of these activities and demand on our attention and demand on our ability to keep information in the "active and now" part of our brain in order to respond can really overload the circuits.
So what do we do about? We learn from our national leaders – we declare loadshedding.
First try to see if you can clearly distinguish (in your mind) different contexts… or maybe strings of thought – can you clearly feel when you are shifting contexts? When you are "saving" information about a previous context and "loading" information about the new one (to use a very very techy term).
If you can then, create a schedule where you tell your mind which contexts, things, tasks, projects you will choose to completely forget about at what periods of time.
Whenever your mind wanders to ask about that thing during a blackout period, just think "sorry, I’m not worried about that right now".
Its sounds a bit basic than it is (or maybe its just hard for me, me becoming a dinosaur and all), but attention loadshedding really helps. You not only save time, but a lot of mental energy as well that was otherwise being spent keeping all of that information in the "active and now.. dont forget about this thing" section.
I’ll leave it at that before this becomes a science lesson
Have you mastered a work ethic which gives you massive productivity? If so, share it with us, I’d love to hear about it.