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What’s your strategy for maintaining focus?

Ever think your attention span has a better social life than yours?

Here’s me in Teams calls, trying to get my head around product management, and poof! My focus decides it’s a great time to ghost me. It’s like trying to keep a cat entertained – no matter how many shiny things you throw at it, it just wants to play with the box. After all, just like a cat captivated by the simplest box, it’s often the smallest distraction that can hijack our attention in the most unexpected ways.

As someone who is always in remote meetings trying to figure out the best ways to deliver products, I’ve learned that keeping my focus isn’t easy. I’m there with my laptop, looking at a screen full of people, thinking about projects, and then emails start popping up, and my phone begins buzzing. Suddenly my attention is off to the races, chasing the loudest noise!
This whole circus act with focus makes me think of what James Clear said: ‘The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future.’ This has become my mantra in navigating the choppy waters of remote product management.

My attention, I’ve realised, is the most valuable asset I bring to my virtual table. It’s not just about managing tasks; it’s about steering the ship of product innovation and strategy. When I channel my focus effectively, I’m not just crossing off to-dos; I’m shaping the future of the products I’m passionate about.

Here’s a trick I’ve picked up: the ‘Two-Minute Rule.’ If a task takes less than two minutes, I do it immediately. It’s a small change, but it’s made a huge difference. This, coupled with disciplined ‘focus blocks’ in my calendar for deep work, has revolutionised not just my productivity but also my sense of work satisfaction.

Recently, during a particularly hectic week, I was swamped with an overwhelming list of small tasks, along with a crucial product strategy meeting looming on the horizon. Normally, I might have postponed these minor tasks for later, but adhering to the ‘Two-Minute Rule’, I tackled them immediately. This included quickly replying to a client’s query, approving a minor copy update, and confirming a meeting time – each task taking less than two minutes. To my surprise, clearing these small tasks not only uncluttered my to-do list but also cleared my mind. When it was time for the strategic meeting, I was fully present and focused, contributing insights that ultimately shaped our product direction significantly. It was a small habit, but it made a substantial impact, allowing me to navigate through the chaos with a clear head and a more organised approach.

Mastering our attention in the digital age is a journey, not a destination. For me, it’s about ensuring my focus aligns with the ups and downs of managing products and that my attention advances my goals and passions each day.

Now, what about you?

How do you keep your attention sharp in the rollercoaster of remote work and digital distractions in the form of endless pings and rings?

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