Time or Attention? Which Works?

AdamGrant_2016-headshot_previewWhen I ask students why they decided to attend an Efficient Librarian seminar, a common response is that they wanted to learn more about “time management.”  While it seems logical to believe that you can get more work done through better management of the hours in your day, it may not be that straightforward.  In fact, focusing on time management may actually make you less productive.

In a recent article on the New York Times web site, Professor Adam Grant argues that managing our attention, not time, is a better approach to getting things done.  He writes:

“Being prolific is not about time management. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and focusing on time management just makes us more aware of how many of those hours we waste.

“A better option is attention management: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.”

This reminds me of a classic David Allen quote from Getting Things Done:

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

Read the rest of Adam Grant’s article on the New York Times web site.

South Central Library System

A big thank you goes out to the South Central Library System in Wisconsin for hosting two Efficient Librarian webinars.  Jean Anderson and her team were great to work with.  We had excellent attendance and the participants asked very thoughtful questions.

SCLS has posted the presentations to their continuing education web site.  If you want to view a recording of the two webinars, both one hour in length, here are the links:

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Thank you again to Jean the SCLS team.  I hope to work with you again in the future.

Organizing is a Journey

claire-tompkinsDavid Allen has often said there is a “strategic value” to “clear space.”  In a physical sense, this means ensuring that our work and home spaces are organized and clean.  However, for those starting out with the intention to get organized there is a trap to avoid.  It is very easy to see the whole process as one big heavy lift that needs to be accomplished in a short time.  With this daunting view of the project it is likely they will give up on organizing right from the start.

Claire Tompkins, aka the Clutter Coach, shares in her book, 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized, that organizing is a journey.  It is not meant to be completed in one weekend, but instead is a transformative approach occurring over many weeks or months.  On page 50 of her book, she shares a simple way to frame the task.

“Try on this thought: organizing is a journey, not a destination.  The difference between people who are organized and those who aren’t is that they do a little every day to maintain order.”

She then suggests the following tip:

“Identify one small area that tends to get cluttered regularly and spend five minutes putting things away and throwing things out.”

Sounds like good advice.  Now excuse me while I clean out this drawer …

The Power of Completion

DA-SmallDo you know how many projects lie unfinished in your world?  As we move through life there is a natural force in us that creates new things as they spark our interest.  Unfortunately, I have found this creation often results in lots of projects that quickly lose focus and instead become a source of stress.  It seems that the catch to managing all the stuff we create is finding a way to bring closure to them.

In his latest blog post, David Allen delves into the entwined powers of completing and creating and how their dance affects our lives.

“Seems that we’re here on the planet to learn about and do two things—complete and create. We are responsible for what we have put into motion on all levels, and we must manage the process of what we are putting into motion every moment. 

“Though both aspects are primary, I think a lot of people could use a good bit more emphasis on the complete part. Our cultural personality seems bent on limitless expansion and not necessarily cleaning up after itself.”

Read the rest of the post at the Getting Things Done web site.

 

Do You Know the Purpose?

We all got them.  Sometimes they are fun and other times they are a struggle.  Truth be told, they are a fundamental fact of work life that will never go away.  What are they?  Projects!

I was reminded at the NEFLIN workshop this past week that many people tend to think of a project as something big and complicated.  However, most of our projects are actually very small.  David Allen defines a project as anything that requires more than one action to complete.  By that count we have dozens and dozens of projects underway!  Unfortunately, it is far too easy for projects to stall and grow stagnant.  Is there a way to move them along?

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One approach is to follow the Natural Planning Model from Getting Things Done.  (In the latest edition of the book, it can be found on pages 60-63.)  Every project starts for a reason.  When that reason becomes obscured or forgotten, the energy behind a project can fade.  That is why the first part of the Natural Planning Model is all about purpose.   If you and your team do not clearly understand why the project even exists there will be little energy to see it through.  Another way to think about purpose is to ask the question, “What problem am I trying to solve?”

So what projects are on your plate that have lost focus and energy?  It might be time to take a good long look at the purpose of those projects to see if a little clarity might be the spark to move them forward.

Thank You LLAMA and NEFLIN

A big thank you goes out to ALA’s LLAMA Division and Florida’s own NEFLIN for hosting Efficient Librarian seminars in the last two weeks.

The LLAMA webinar was held on Feb. 27 and featured participation from across the United States.  Special thanks goes out to LLAMA’s Fred Reuland for organizing and managing the webinar.

This week’s in person seminar at NEFLIN HQ in Orange Park had 15 eager participants from across northeast Florida participating in the full day experience.  Thank you to the entire NEFLIN staff, Brad, Jenny, Raymond, and Jeannie, for making it a special day for all participants.

If you missed out, don’t worry.  I will be presenting four webinars in March.  Please visit the Workshops and Webinars page to learn dates and times.

 

Wanted: A Second Brain

forteHave you ever thought it would be nice to have a personal assistant?  How about one that works quietly behind the scenes all day long for free?  This personal assistant would store all your great ideas, important information, and project components so that you can recall them at a moment’s notice.  Such an assistant would relieve stress and expand your creativity.  But could this assistant actually exist?

Tiago Forte has designed a course with the intention to create this amazing personal assistant.  In his signature course, Building a Second Brain, Tiago pulls together cutting edge ideas from the realms of productivity and efficiency into a systematic structure that can work for anyone.  He describes the premise of the course as follows:

“Building A Second Brain is a methodology for saving and systematically reminding us of the ideas, inspirations, insights, and connections we’ve gained through our experience. It expands our memory and our intellect using the modern tools of technology and networks.

“This methodology is not only for preserving those ideas, but turning them into reality. It provides a clear, actionable path to creating a “second brain” – an external, centralized, digital repository for the things you learn and the resources from which they come.”

Intrigued by the idea?  Read the full-length post at Forte Labs to learn the basics of Building a Second Brain.