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Time management and “AttentionManagement” efforts are easily defeated when too many tasks confront us at once. I learned an anecdote suggesting that’s exactly why lion tamers use chairs, holding the seat of the chair or stool and pointing the legs at the lion. Do lions have some inordinate fear of chairs? Nope, lions are like us. They get overwhelmed with too much information. The lion tries to focus on all four legs at the same time. He can’t. So he becomes distracted, overwhelmed, passive, and less productive (“productive” in this case being interpreted as eating more trainers! ;).

Whether you’re an executive in a big corporation or a solopreneur, you probably have exactly the same problem. Most of us have piles of paper reflecting jobs that need tending to, pages of unread emails reproducing in our inboxes, phone calls yet to be made and blogs and other social media with embarrassingly old dates on them. This could be due to the fact that attention management is not being effectively practiced.

The pile of old work to be tackled produces a stressed out, overwhelmed, drowning feeling that has a paralyzing effect on your productivity. When you sit down at your desk and you think to yourself, “What do I need to do now?”, the sheer number of potential answers to that question is completely overwhelming. It probably causes you to retreat into some sort of busy work, something that is easy, familiar, and doesn’t require a lot of thought. For most people, this means email. It’s just so much easier to go look at new business coming down the pike than try to figure out what to do about the pile of old business.  Like the lion, we’re reacting, and our reaction is to retreat.As long as we don’t have a system in place to manage all the inputs, we’re faced daily with what I’ve learned to call Lion Syndrome: the passivity brought on by too much to think about. And the old tasks continue to pile up, or get done at the last minute, in a shower of stress. When we have an hour, or heck, 30 minutes to get something done,we need to easily and painlessly be able to answer the question: “What do I do need todo now?”

With a New Year starting, it’s a great time to resolve to overcome lion syndrome and take action that will put us back in control. This means systems of organization and action that really work. That’s what I’ll be talking about in 2012 in my productivity training classes. Keep reading, and step by step, we’ll overcome Lion Syndrome.  If you want some hands-on learning, about avoiding Lion Syndrome and other ways to lower your stress, get more done, and achieve your significant results, consider joining me in Austin for my next productivity training seminar. Read more and register here.

photo by Eric Kilby


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