Here is a simple and important question to consider: What is your scarcest resource during the work day?
Most people have a ready answer: My time! Sure, time is a scarce resource for everyone, and most of us feel we don't have enough of it. But this is actually the wrong answer. Consider your close colleagues in the workplace. Most of them work for a similar amount of time every day, yet some are dramatically more productive than others. And these differences aren't just about expertise – the smartest or most competent person isn't always the most efficient one.
So what is the scarcest resource? It is your attention – your capacity to focus on the right things at the right time. This has always been true to some degree, but it is becoming even more important. In a world where information is plentiful, where the costs of searching for the information you need is almost zero, the premium on attention and focus is even higher than it used to be.
Simply put, the most productive and efficient managers are the ones who understand and manage their attention properly. They are sufficiently self-aware to know when they are doing valuable work and when they are wasting time, and they have the self-discipline to switch their attention toward the places where it is most valuable.
In this chapter, we describe a series of techniques and tools that help you manage your own personal time at work. The first, activity logs (#8), is simply about tracking what ...