Attention, Decision making, and leading an efficient life

So as I write this I recognize that in the short run it is negatively impacting my efficiency because I have other priorities that should come first, however in the long run writing this, and concretely formulating my thoughts may be beneficial to my ability to maintain and increase work efficiency.

Efficiency is very important to me in my life right now because I frequently have quite a variety of things to accomplish and I need to squeeze some of those accomplishments into small time-frames.  I’m not particularly skilled in segmenting my work into multiple sessions, instead I prefer to totally complete it in one or two sittings.  If possible I like those to be a draft and revision sequence.

I’m reading about a cognitive science approach right now which led me down a tangential boulevard of consideration: How do I make sure what my mind is attending to is most beneficial towards accomplishing my current goal? The concept of continuously thinking about your goal is detrimental in that it absorbs attentive resources that you could use in order to better accomplish the immediate step towards that goal.  So then is it best to avoid tangents?  I’m not sure that this is true either because in many cases for myself I am so worn out from working continously on the same project for more than an hour that I end up losing productivity or quality.  However tangents that chain to other tangents and go off on a one-way train are clearly detrimental.  So then I have to cut myself off from my tangents to be effective.  Lately I’ve found that if I have multiple projects to work on simultaneously, which I usually do, then I can use the different projects as my breaks.  When I tire of reading a journal article I can outline a speech.  When I run out of ideas for an analytical paper I can go through a dataset of Korean and do glosses.  When everything else is dreary I can turn to personal goals like working on my screenplay.  Overall I’ve found this to be a fairly effective means of accomplishing large amounts of work in the smallest time frame available and still keep my sanity (and get some sleep, unlike freshman year).

My biggest setback is external distractions: other people, their music, their conversations, sometimes even their proximity.  However when a small group of people are all serious about getting work accomplished around me, I find that my productivity goes up.  Instead of considering a mental tangent and gazing off into space I see them working beside me and quickly return to my own efforts.  So then I have to find an environment that consistently fosters this sort of work attitude and provides me with necessary physical resources I require to work, namely an electrical socket for my laptop, a comfortable desk with a lot of space to spread out on, and an appropriate chair that’s not too comfortable and inspires at least decent posture.  On that note too, I’ve found that maintaining good sitting posture, or at least acceptable sitting posture while working greatly improves my efficiency.  Thanks to observing the Japanese for 4 months for that one.

Going back to what I mentioned before, maintaing proper mental attentiveness to my projects with my goals in mind doesn’t really get easier.  I just hope that I can enter into the appropriate atmosphere, with the appropriate resources, and the least distractions possible so that my opportunity for focus and efficacy are maximized.

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Filed under musing, whining

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