If we had more time (in our day, in our week, our month…) we could get so much more done!
Sadly, no. Besides that it’s physically impossible to get more time in a day or week, having more time is only a piece of the puzzle.
It’s not just the quantity of time that we need to consider, but the quality, too.
When thinking about getting work done we need to also consider our energy and attention.
Thinking in terms of time, energy, and attention (TEA) is important since many of us operate as if more time equals more capacity, when in reality it often doesn’t.
We also need to think about our energy, and capacity for focus at a particular moment — which will make a huge difference for how much progress can be made.
Why We Think in Terms of Time Management
We like to think in terms of time because out of those three TEA elements, it’s the one you can most easily and objectively measure.
But the time put in doesn’t always produce an equal output.
You might put in 8 hours of work on Monday and the same 8 hours on Tuesday but your results at the end of each day will likely be different.
And, in fairness, it’s hard to gauge what someone else's energy or attention is from the outside. (Sometimes it’s hard to gauge from the inside.)
Many of us creatives don’t work in environments controlled by a clock, but we still measure our input in those terms. This is unfortunate because the clock doesn’t help much when we want to think in terms of being effective and creative.
And we might have only two hours per day when we have the necessary TEA that we need to do some creative heavy lifting.
But if we don’t use our TEA wisely, no amount of any single one out of those three (long hours, intense energy output, or hyper fixation/attention) is going to get us to work at that same level.
How Momentum Can Help With Your TEA
In Momentum, a project is anything that takes your time, energy, and attention to complete.
How can you make sure you have all three? Below find some best practices for focusing your attention, managing your energy, and using the limited time you have to make progress on your goals.
Focus Your Attention (TIME + ENERGY - ATTENTION)
When you have time in your schedule and energy to work with, but you haven’t honed in on a specific task or project, your attention is going to get diverted.
Interruptions will pull at your focus, whether it’s incoming phone calls, kids barging in, or Fido needing a walk.
Or you’ll find endless distractions that will easily steal your time and energy: the email or Slack chain from hell, social media scrolling (and scrolling, and scrolling…..oh, where were we?)
You can minimize interruptions and distractions with well set (and kept) boundaries.
Boundaries don’t just keep people and things from you, they also create the space for you to get your best work done.
❓ Do you know what needs your attention? Are you clear on why the tasks on your list are on your list?
💡⏩Momentum helps you keep your commitments by having you “Confirm” projects at each time horizon. By looking at your confirmed projects for the month you’ll see how your projects for this week will move you closer to your goals.
Manage Your Energy (TIME + ATTENTION - ENERGY)
If you’re constantly struggling to make progress on the tasks you’ve scheduled, you may be scheduling your tasks at the wrong time.
Are you trying to squeeze in time for writing at the end of a long day when you hit your creative peak in the early morning?
Do you find it hard to concentrate during the slow, hot summer months but always find yourself kicking off a new project in June?
Unfortunately we can’t expect our energy to be high when it suits our schedule. But we can adjust our schedule to match our natural energy levels.
❓ What time(s) of your day do you have the most energy?
💡⏩ Hold blocks of time on your schedule that match your daily energy. Focus blocks when you need focus, social blocks when you’re primed to interact with people, Admin blocks for tasks you need ot check off your list, Recovery blocks to refresh your energy.
❓ What days of the week do you have more or less energy for different types of activities?
💡⏩ Use the “🗒 Notes” section at the top of your Daily Planner to set a theme for the day and plan your tasks according.
❓ How does your energy shift with the seasons?
💡⏩Schedule your Monthly and Quarterly projects with the seasons in mind. For example, there’s a distinct shift from the summer slow of August into the whirlwind of the back to school / back to work energy of September.
Organize Your Time (ENERGY + ATTENTION - TIME)
We all get the same 24 hours each day. We can’t gain time but we can be mindful of how we spend the hours we get.
There's nothing more frustrating than jumping into a project only to find your schedule already full, or breaking your flow for a calendar commitment.
If your daily schedule is a Tetris board you’re likely losing a lot of that energy and attention in all the context switching.
But there is a way you can work to simplify, scale back and pare down.
❓ What are you doing that you could either stop doing or do more efficiently? What would you do with additional time?
💡⏩Look over your Daily Planners from the last week or two for patterns in your schedule. See where there are opportunities to batch similar kinds of work to take back some of that “lost” time.
Our TEA is precious and finite. Treasure your time, energy and attention, and use them wisely
A version of post this was originally published on www.productiveflourishing.com