Attention Management: 4 Ways To Clear Your Mind From Distractions And Information Overload6 min read

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I struggle with distractions and information overload all the time

This is how it usually happens: I turn on my mobile data to research a topic, and instantly get bombarded with notifications from my email and social media apps. 

I manage to ignore them and open my browser, only for my previous tabs to beckon me. Then I get distracted and check the tabs just to see.

Focus Tobe,” I tell myself. I exit the tabs.

Then I type in my inquiry on the Search Engine’s Search bar only to be flooded with thousands of results.

I, not knowing which to open and which to ignore, choose the top 3 on the Search Engine Result Page.

Immediately the page loads up, adverts start popping up, infusing a random idea into my mind; egging me to click through. 

Soon information overload occurs and I get both mentally overwhelmed and fatigued to continue research.

Choosing the path of least resistance, I retire to social media

How Do You Stay Focused In A Distracted World?

Distractions are everywhere, to the point of inundation. 

Distractions can come in different forms. For example, when you’re studying for an exam but your roommate keeps yammering about A$AP Rocky cheating on Rihanna, and because you think it is rude to tell them to shut up about it, you endure it. You endured it, but it chopped off a huge chunk of your attention.

Or, when you’re busy distracting yourself with all the “important” things available. Music, football, dance, you name it. You may even like being busy. Multitasking may even be your middle name. But at the end of the day, you’ll find out that you get burnt out and most of the “important” work doesn’t even get done properly.

Distractions can do you in by reducing the satisfaction and quality of results you get from your work.

You may ask, “what is the difference between attention management, and time management?

Difference Between Attention Management And Time Management

How do you keep focus in a world as dynamic and distracting as ours right now? 

Distraction is on the increase. 

Studies show that humans are distracted every 3 minutes, 5 seconds on average. Heck, the average attention span of a human fell from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2022. This is less than the attention span of a goldfish (9 seconds).

People say time management is what we need. I beg to differ. What’s the point of making time for someone or something when you won’t even pay attention to it when the time comes. What we need is attention management. 

Time management has to do with blocking out time for each important activity. whilst Attention management, simply put, is the ability to intentionally choose what to focus on or pay attention to within the allocated time.

It is easy to say, “I will start working by 9 am”, but what is hard is choosing to do only one job (with full attention) by 9 am.

Maura Thomas who is the author of the book “Attention Management; How To Create Success And Gain Productivity Every Day” further argues that time is beyond our control and trying to manage it only sets us up for failure.

Thankfully, we can control our attention. And by learning to effectively do so, we can increase our productivity and the quality of our lives. 

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4 Attention Management Strategies That Would Skyrocket Your Productivity

There are four(4) major ways to implement attention management;

1. Use The Eisenhower Matrix:

Founded by the one-time President of the United States of America Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is used to manage tasks by organizing them according to their degree of importance and urgency.

It helps you break tasks down and enables easy execution. The beauty of this method is it helps you realize what is important and what just isn’t.

For instance, doing the research may be more important and urgent than replying to a chat.

Eisenhower Matrix Illustrated in Merrill and Covey‘s 1994 book “First Things First,

2. Be Spontaneous

To plan and strategize is necessary, but you can take it too far…” explains coach and mindfulness consultant Alison Callan, co-author of “You Are Meant For More”.

Like Nike, “just do it”. Handle things as soon as they arise. If you can’t do so immediately, write it down and revisit it later.

Eliminate quick checks. Unless you mean to be an hour quick (shrugs shoulder). 

Being spontaneous (doing the important things as soon as they arise) helps us throw procrastination out the window, and reduces stress.

3. Practice Minimalism

Minimalism is prioritizing by avoiding/eliminating the unnecessary. It is about the idea that “less is more” – Less distraction is more results. It is about embracing quality over quantity.

Do/focus on one thing at a time. 

“The wise of this generation are those who choose what to ignore rather than try to do or understand everything”. 

  • Limit phone or laptop time.
  • Turn off notifications and close unnecessary browser tabs, programs, and apps. 
  • Declutter your schedule
  • Cut down on the number of friends, belongings, etcetera that you have
  • Reduce digital activities, meetings, expenses, travels, etcetera.

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Ed Sheeran, Warren Buffet, and Genevieve Nnaji are some famous people who embody this in their lifestyles. 

4. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People:

Imagine how much more you can achieve by simply not being around that roommate that couldn’t keep shut about the latest celebrity gossip when it is time to study for the exam. 

Radically adopting this approach may cost dear friends and even family members but this is a hidden price for success. And one which is worth paying for. 

Attention management is the cure for distraction. 

And just as you cure an illness by taking medication and avoiding its causes; you can become more focused by applying productivity hacks and also employing attention management

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section

I enjoy literary works (especially in the form of books and songs) and learning about human psychology.

I’m also interested in intellectual development, fitness/athleticism, and waste management.

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