To Manage Time, Manage Attention


For many years, I have taken the turning of the calendar as an opportunity for reflection and resolution. I ask myself, What have I learned in the passing year? What do I want to accomplish in the coming one? Perhaps you do the same.

The answer that connects both questions for me as 2023 dawns is that if I want to manage my time, I must first and foremost manage my attention.

I was startled into this realization when I opened the Screen Time app on my iPhone and saw how much time I spent — wasted, really — on it. One week, I was on my phone nearly 41 hours watching videos, trolling through social media, and surfing the internet.

Over 90% of my phone usage was not related to work, though I hasten to add it occurred after hours or on the weekends. In other words, I wasted personal time, not company time. I doubt that makes things better.

I am not a workaholic who thinks life should be a long, hard slog from sunup to sundown, by the way. There is nothing wrong with a few hours of leisure every day, especially on Saturdays. Still, 41 hours just on my iPhone seems excessive.

A related problem appears when I looked at how I used my 40-hour workweek. As an editor, I have deadlines. I either get publications off to the press or I do not. How often did I put off necessary tasks until the last minute to focus on less-deadline-intensive interests?

Similarly, as a minister, weekend and midweek services impose hard limits on your time. You have to lead, preach, and pray regardless of whether you have prepared adequately. Do you constantly find yourself less than prepared to do the biggest parts of your job? Is it because you let the urgent crowd out the important? Do you spend too much time reacting to crises rather than working proactively toward long-range goals?

Or have we just whiled away the time viewing frivolities on our smartphones?

This year, I resolve to use my time better, both professionally and personally. I want to accomplish more for Christ and His kingdom and with my family and friends. So, I am deleting some apps, limiting iPhone usage, and focusing my attention where it matters more, both at work and at home.

Perhaps you should do the same.

 

This article appears in the winter 2023 issue of Influence magazine and is cross-posted with permission.

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