Working with Intention: The 4 Components of Productivity at Work
The human attention span is consistently on the decline. In the year 2000, our average attention span was around 12 seconds. Today, collectively, we’re hovering around 8 seconds. This means goldfish have us beat at 9 seconds. Yes, that’s right. Goldfish.
It’s hard to stay focused when there are so many different things vying for our attention. Email alerts, calendar reminders, social media notifications—there’s no end to the constant barrage of noise that tries to pull us away from the real work that needs to be done. So how do we stay present in an increasingly connected world? It starts with being intentional.
What does that mean exactly? Being intentional includes knowing your purpose, mapping out what it will take to achieve that purpose, and then executing on that purpose. If your normal plan of attack is to handle whatever is shouting at you the loudest first, you’re going to constantly feel ineffective, drained, and stressed. If your email inbox is your to-do list that’s a problem. Working with intention is the best way to combat the chaos that comes your way. Plan your work and then work your plan.
Working with Intention Step 1: Plan Your Day (ahead of time)
Take some time to plan out what your day is going to look like. And yes, this needs to be done ahead of time. If you’re a morning person, get up 15-20 minutes earlier than normal. Night owl? Carve out some time before you leave the office the evening before. Whatever your preference, take the time to look at what the next day holds. What time are your meetings scheduled for? Where are your “free spots”? What are you trying to accomplish and when will you be accomplishing it?
Working with Intention Step 2: Set an Overall Goal
How do you want to feel at the end of the day? Do you want to feel accomplished? How about effective? Maybe you’re just aiming to stay calm. Whatever it is, choose an overall goal for the day. This can be done by writing out the sentence, “At the end of the day, I want to feel _____.” Then fill in the blank.
Working with Intention Step 3: Identify Your Top 3 Tasks
Identify the 3 most important things that need to be completed by the end of the day. These should coincide with your overall goal. Feeling effective, calm, or whatever your “blank” is will be directly tied to the completion of these 3 tasks. So map out what they are and when you’ll be working on them. Scheduling time for actually working on these tasks is just as important as writing down what they are. Which also means…
Working with Intention Step 4: Be Firm With Your Scheduled Time
This might be the hardest one of all. Your time is just as valuable any everyone else’s. Would you cancel a meeting with your client or your boss right before it’s about to start? Hopefully not. So show yourself the same amount of respect! If you schedule a time to get something done, then don’t schedule over it or let other tasks take priority over getting it done. And don’t multitask: doing all of the things at once accomplishes nothing and, according to a study at the University of London, can actually lower your IQ.
Know your purpose. Map it out. Execute. Having intention before you start the day will keep you focused on what the goal is and less likely to give in to the constant distractions that are thrown your way. Take that, goldfish.
Lauren started at ABS in 2012 as an Administrative Assistant. Shortly thereafter, she was promoted to Purchasing, where she worked for two years learning about the business and the IT industry. After working with ABS’ top enterprise accounts for two years as Inside Sales Account Manager, Lauren was promoted to the Sales Support Manager where she managed the entire team of Sales Support Specialists. Since then, Lauren has been promoted to Sales Operations Manager, where she now oversees the not only the Sales Support Specialists, but all of Sales Operations, Renewals, and Procurement.