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If you’re like many knowledge workers today, you feel stuck in crisis mode. You’re getting more harried and overwhelmed by the day. But the organizational skills you’ve been taught, like time management, aren’t helping anymore. You need a new strategy to reduce stress, raise your productivity and just keep from burning out.

That key skill is attention management. Attention management means you decide where to direct your focus at any given moment based on your priorities. It’s the central concept in Work Without Walls, my new guide to creating thriving, productive workplace cultures in the knowledge economy.

Could you benefit from improving your attention management? Here are 10 signs you need this essential workplace skill to reduce stress.

  1. Distractions dictate your day. Distractions can be external, like an email notification, or internal, like a sudden thought about something else you need to be working on. Either way, they can sideline your priorities. You need a strategy to manage them.
  2. You constantly e-email or do other work after hours. This may seem productive, but it’s not. When you never take a break from work, you’re actually zapping your brainpower.
  3. You work while on vacation. This is taking the “always on” philosophy to the destructive extreme. Vacations are a vital way to both reduce stress and recharge your creativity.
  4. You always multi-task. When you switch between tasks, you do a worse job on all of them.
  5. You’re available 24/7/365. If you don’t have backup on your key tasks while you’re away from work, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
  6. You skimp on sleep. Do you check your phone or worry about work all night? Expect your performance to suffer.
  7. You think busyness is a badge of honor. You can stay busy all day on low-value tasks (like constantly checking your email) but never accomplish anything meaningful.
  8. You’re hung up on “face time.” You can’t judge your productivity by the time you spend at your office. (And if you’re a leader, this isn’t the best way to evaluate your team.)
  9. You work in an open office. The days of individual offices are long gone for many of us. If you work in an open office, you’ll reduce stress and be more productive if you can get away to a quieter area to do focused work.
  10. You always feel tired and overwhelmed. All of these factors can add up to the sense that your work and your life are out of control.

Learn More About Attention Management

Ready to start taking back some control? Both of my books feature attention management strategies you can start using right away—for your yourself, your team, and your organization, and you can start reading either or both for free.

See a sample below of other articles I’ve written on attention management, and here’s one from another source (Health Ambition) on ways to control your attention, although read here about why I disagree with their tip about using music.

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