Attention management is the new time management

Time management is all very well but it’s not enough. Here’s how to incorporate attention management to be more productive. 

Most people I know in business have excellent time management skills. They set out their goals, they prioritise their work, and they make a daily task list to get things done.

In days gone by that was enough. Planning meant that work could be scheduled into the time available. By and large, an organised person could get all their work done quite routinely. Imagine that?

“As soon as we check our email in the morning, our task list is already out of date.”

The problem with time management

But those time management techniques were designed for a business world where people had control over their time. It was a business world without email, mobile phones, i-messenger, apps, iPads, tablets and social media. Blocks of uninterrupted time were easier to find and in general, the plan for the day could be completed as expected.

“This will impact business growth as the focus becomes less strategic and more operational.”

New challenges

Technological advances have completely changed our work environment. Constant communication brings a steady stream of new requests and ever-changing deadlines.

So allocating time to a task doesn’t mean it gets done. As soon as we check our email in the morning, our task list is already out of date. And when everything seems urgent, it is impossible to stick to our priorities. As the day goes on the work plan can go out the window.

“Understand where your focus is going throughout the day.”

Working reactively

The steady stream of requests means comes with an expectation of almost instant response time. So we work in a reactive, responsive mode.

And this is great for customer service and team cooperation. But it’s not productive for the achievement of the plans and goals. And ultimately this will impact business growth as the focus becomes less strategic and more operational.

“Spot patterns, track who and what distracts you. Use a time log for a few days to get the data on this.”

Attention management

So in a way time management techniques have never been so important. But we have to supplement these techniques with skills to manage our attention. How good are your attention management skills? Is this something you have ever thought about?

Here are some tips on how you can become more aware of your attention and then how to manage it.

attention management

1. Understand your attention

Do some initial work to understand where your focus is going throughout the day. Spot patterns, track who and what distracts you. Use a time log for a few days to get the data on this. Make a list of those attention stealers to remind you what to avoid.

Then use a timer so you can check your progress versus your plan during the day. This will help you see where you have drifted on to another task without realising it. But it also enables you to get back on track before too much time is lost. After a while, you develop the skill yourself, so the timer isn’t required.

“To give you the confidence to make decisions you should be clear about your responsibilities to your clients.”

2. Protect your attention

We often feel obliged to respond to new requests, new emails or interruptions. It can be hard to say no to your customers or your colleagues. But we often end up working on something that has a lower priority than the work we planned to do.

To give you the confidence to make decisions you should be clear about your responsibilities to your clients. What is a reasonable response time for clients? What has been agreed? Are you doing tasks that are not in your role?

With this knowledge, it can be easier to say no or at last negotiate a different response time.

“If your business allows it, turn off the phones at least some of the time.”

3. Develop the right environment

If you run your own business take a look at how easy or difficult it is for people to focus. Is there a noise level that can be improved? Can you work together to give each person some “Do not disturb” time throughout the week?

  • Encourage people to focus on one task rather than multi-tasking.
  • If your business allows it, turn off the phones at least some of the time.
  • Provide a quiet room as a contrast to the open plan office.
  • Offer your office to your team when you are not there.
  • Allow the use of noise-blocking headphones if it doesn’t compromise your service delivery.
  • Above all, be creative. Come up with your own solutions for attention management that will suit your business.
moira dunne

Be proactive, take control and be productive

So let’s give some time to attention management. It is one of the essential business skills in today’s workplace. Combine this with the classic time management techniques and watch your productivity soar.

Guide by Moira Dunne,

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From homeless at 14 to working at Apple and Tesla

Despite their age (19), US twins Mark and Andrew Ansell have already lived rollercoaster lives, going from being homeless at 14 to interning at some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley.
When sitting with Mark and Andrew Ansell, it’s hard to imagine that these two enthusiastic and incredibly intelligent young men have lived their lives accompanied by regular struggle.
Currently, on a student exchange at Trinity College, from UC Berkeley in California, Mark and Andrew’s family became homeless in 2012 and spent more than a year moving around and receiving support before regaining stability. “Our family has always had some sort of financial struggle and that year was the climax of all of that. We arrived home one day and found an eviction notice on our door and as 14-year-olds we didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Mark. 

After spending four months living in a church, the Ansell family were relocated to a motel which is a period to forget for the twins. “That was a totally different experience because we used to come home from school feeling so embarrassed and hoping none of our peers would see us running into this motel room that we called home. It was a tough time,” says Andrew.
“We arrived home one day and found an eviction notice on our door and as 14-year-olds we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Amazingly, Mark and Andrew were able to maintain their impressive academic record and chose to focus all of their energy on their school work. They now study mechanical engineering and business administration at UC Berkeley and are the only students in the college studying the two degrees simultaneously. “We applied to all of our colleges in search of mechanical engineering degrees, but we always wanted to pair that with business because our parents have

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A €500,000 fund for graduate startups

A €500,000 fund will provide up to €50,000 in equity funding for up to ten successful applicants.
Enterprise Ireland’s competitive start fund (CSF) for recent graduates will open for applications on Tuesday 10th April 2018.
The €500,000 fund will provide up to €50,000 in equity funding for up to ten successful applicants. The fund closes to applications at 3 pm on Tuesday, 24th April 2018.
The graduate entrepreneurship fund is to encourage entrepreneurship among graduates who run startups that can succeed in global markets.
Applications from final year students and graduates with a third-level qualification within the last three years are invited to apply.
“Graduate entrepreneurs can sometimes be overlooked.”
Crucial funding
“We have a pool of talented and ambitious entrepreneurs in this country, who are still in university or recently graduated and are making valuable contributions to the economy through their startups. For these entrepreneurs, supports like Enterprise Ireland’s competitive start fund are vital. Together with crucial funding, the initiative provides valuable business support and networking opportunities to innovative entrepreneurs and companies at the start of their journey, and provides a platform from which they can progress their business,” says Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD.
“Graduate entrepreneurs can sometimes be overlooked; however, we understand the value of their ideas and their businesses to the startup ecosystem,” says Sarita Johnston, department manager, HPSU Start, Enterprise Ireland.
As well as written online applications, startups will be asked to prepare an online video pitch.
Full details of, and the application for, this graduate competitive start fund can be found here. 
Help is at hand
In partnership with Enterprise Ireland, Dublin BIC will host a free-to-attend CSF application support day on 17th April. Book your place here.

Related Resource

The best colleges for student entrepreneurs. 

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Talent nation – creative Ireland is thriving

From award-winning animation studios, industrial and graphic design agencies, photographers, illustrators, fashion and filmmakers, Ireland is seeing growth in the creative sector.
Despite cuts in funding and a lack of policies, Ireland exhibits a healthy environment for the creative sector. Design conference, OFFSET recently brought together the most dynamic Irish and international practitioners from these fields to discuss all things design.

Games with heart
Transforming our idea of a typical board game, Anita Murphy and Rory O’Connor of Hub Games, based in Belfast, have created games that help us tell stories and make us think about the world in new ways.
“We say our games have a heart because they offer more than entertainment,” said Anita, speaking at the conference. “We realised the power that play has to bring people together and explore narrative and creativity.”
Their game, Rory’s Story Cubes has sold over five million sets in 50 countries.
Touch Press, an Irish company that makes games and apps featuring some of the world’s best-loved children’s characters, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elmo, and Batman, also stressed the importance of making gaming a more meaningful experience.
“If you can pare back a story and create opportunities for any player or user of whatever age to empathise and influence things in their way, it’s much more powerful,” said Emmett O’Neill from Touch Press. “There are so many negative aspects of games apps. We are trying to make things that are more meaningful, especially for kids. We want to slow things down a bit and educate.”
“One of the most marginalised groups in our society today are young people.”
Designing liveable cities
Playing was an important theme at the conference with A Playful City, Ireland’s first not-for-profit focused on co-creating a more playful, engaging and inclusive city, speaking on the importance of designing with and for the community.
“One of the

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Taking ‘farm to fork’ to a whole new level

From a humble start, two brothers built a farm, food and hotel business based on quality and provenance. 
Redmond Farm, situated in Craanford, North Wexford is a compelling farm-to-fork story. A business success created by two brothers, Paddy and Tommy Redmond, who left school in the 80s to train and work within farmyard and residential construction. Starting with a small acreage, Redmond Farm has grown over the years, into an award-winning, 300-acre beef and vegetable farming enterprise. And then there is the matter of the two four-star hotels.
The farm employs a closed-loop, feed-supply chain, using a combination of home-produced forage and locally-sourced grain. The farm specialises in providing, dry-aged Angus beef, along with seasonal daily-fresh produce. All of this produce is destined for the family’s two bustling hotels, the Ashdown and Amber Springs. Paddy and Tommy Redmond, who employ over 300 people in the North Wexford area. Here they talk about their business and their focus on quality at all cost.
“When we left school, we went straight into the construction business, building farmyard walls.”

Farmland and hotels
At home, we kept cattle and pigs, and our Mother always had some turkeys for the Christmas market, says Paddy Redmond.
When we left school, we went straight into the construction business, building farmyard walls, before moving onto one-off housing and subsequently developing large-scale residential sites. During that period, we bought our first piece of neighbouring farmland and as the years went by – we kept adding to this.
Our first foray into the residential market was when we purchased a site in Gorey and built 150 houses on it. Then In 2001, we noticed that Gorey lacked a four-star hotel, so we decided to build the Ashdown Hotel, on the remainder of the site. We also bought a 40-acre site on the Courtown road and decided to

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The wonder woman of wellbeing

From a world champion hurdler to championing wellbeing, Derval O’Rourke is delivering real solutions to women to achieve greater health and happiness.
Derval was very savvy in her career trajectory. While competing as an athlete internationally and pushing herself to the limit, she also completed an MA in Business Management, something which allowed her to transition into business upon winding down her sporting career. She now promotes health and wellbeing through her bestselling cookbooks and most recently the online platform that promises to transform women’s lives in the areas of food, fitness and mindset.
“Upskill and identify gaps in your skill set and where you need to plug into other people.”
Make time count
“The platform is aimed at women between 30 and 50 years old,” explains Derval. “Women of this age group don’t tend to prioritise their health and wellness because they have jobs or kids. Women who reach out to me don’t know where to start regarding fitness. There is a whole market that doesn’t want to put up before and after pictures of them in their underwear. I want a platform for them that is accessible, relatable to their lives and is excellent value.”
Derval got the idea for her business when her friends began asking her to coach them to lose weight, but it turned out to be more about prioritising themselves and their time than it was about fitness.
“Women need to carve out just 30 or 40 minutes three times a week for themselves,” advises Derval. “It isn’t a lot of time, but it makes a massive difference to wellness. I want people to upskill for themselves instead of trying a diet or workout routine for 12 weeks to get into a bikini. It’s about lifelong wellness.”
“Go after the prize and don’t be afraid to say you want to earn

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Startup Weekend FashTech is coming

Ireland’s first Fashion and Technology Startup Weekend sponsored by Bank of Ireland is coming to WeWork, Iveagh Court in Dublin on Friday, March 23 – 25, 2018. 
Ireland’s first Fashion and Technology Startup Weekend is coming to Dublin, supported by Bank of Ireland a long-term supporter of Startup Weekend across Ireland. Book your tickets here. 
That’s great, but what is FashTech?
FashTech is the intersection between the two industries of fashion and technology. Until now both industries have sat side by side one another, never fully grasping what the other side does. Technology today is having a transformative global impact and now looks to be hijacking the fashion industry.
When people are asked to think about fashion, thoughts come to minds such as clothes, identity, personal choices, comfort, protection and expression. You wouldn’t be wrong to think the same. As the rest of world rapidly moves with the times, fashion is only at the beginning of where we can see a tech cross-over.
Technology comes in to play as it looks to amplify your expectations of what the future of the fashion industry holds. Experience, usability, convenience, individualism and opportunities all emerge when fashion shows its open and collaborative side, where embraces and integrates new technologies.
So what does the FashTech landscape look like right now?
Think disruptive. Technology is now being woven into every aspect of the fashion ecosystem and breaking barriers. Some of the uses of technology and its applications can be seen in wearables, smart-textiles, 3D printing, augmented and virtual realities, IoT, the blockchain, retail technology, sustainability and AI. The list is endless and will continue to grow with the advancements in technology and the openness of the fashion industry.
Ah so it’s a global thing, gotchya, so what does this have to do with Ireland?
Ireland with its reputation as ‘Europe’s tech hub’ is a

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New York’s startlab is calling

Is your startup growing? Do you have ambitions to enter the US market? Bank of Ireland’s incubation space in New York City is now open for applications.
Applications are open for startlab NYC, an incubation space that will support Bank of Ireland startup customers who want to scale their business and enter the US market.
Seven successful business applicants will have access to a free incubation space in New York City for 12 months. The firms will also receive mentoring from Bank of Ireland’s innovation and corporate banking teams in both Ireland and the US. When they arrive in NYC, the bank will also make introductions to venture capitalists, state agencies and relevant intermediaries based in the Big Apple.
Last year, Irish tech startups Deposify, Pulsate, Axonista, BriteBiz, Glofox, LogoGrab and KONG Digital were selected to join startlab NYC.
Will your business be next?
“Entering a new market can be a daunting experience for any startup. Our team in New York, along with our Enterprise & Innovation team and sector specialists in Dublin, will give the seven successful companies the support they need to scale their business, seek investment and grow Stateside,” says Francesca McDonagh, group CEO, Bank of Ireland.
Apply here. 

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Littlepal aims to reduce child farm accidents

With over 20 child deaths on farms across Ireland in the last ten years and many more injured, Littlepal hopes to be the solution to such tragedies. Co-founder Eugene Beatty speaks to ThinkBusiness about his startup.
In the beginning
Dymphna (co-founder) and I both work for the same organisation and have crossed paths a number of times. Last year we were having a coffee and were discussing a recent farm fatality involving a child. As parents, we were saddened and could only imagine the pain suffered by the child’s family. During our conversation, we both wondered if there was some sort of device that would alert the driver of a tractor to a child nearby. We discovered that although there had been attempts to develop a warning system, they had been unsuccessful for various reasons.
“The device is attached to the windscreen of a tractor and is plugged into the cigar lighter.”
Engineering a solution
I have been involved in various technological projects in work and had an idea that we could develop an alert system that would work and be viable. We met with experts in the engineering field and with a professor from NUIG. He has been a great help to us and has guided us to a specialist company who would go on to produce our first early stage prototype.
“Our product can prevent death and injury.”
How it works
The device is attached to the windscreen of a tractor and is plugged into the cigar lighter. The child wears a ‘trigger’ which can be a wristband or clasp. Once the wearer comes within range of the receiver, the device flashes and emits a warning sound alerting the driver to the presence of a child or vulnerable person. The device is portable which enables the driver to move it from the tractor to a jeep or digger.

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Call for over 50s to build a business

Are you over 50 and want to build a business? Then this programme is for you. 
A programme to help people age 50+ develop their business ideas has opened for applications. The Ingenuity Build Your Own Business programme gives people the skills required to plan, start and grow a business. 
The programme is led by ISAX and run in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) and supported by Bank of Ireland.
Over 150 people have taken part in the Ingenuity Programme to date. The programme is tailored for people over-50. It is different to many other startup programmes as it gives people a broader range of modules with more time given to implementing the teachings.  
What else is on offer? 
Graduates of the programme will have the support of an Alumni Club and the course also acts as a gateway to the ISAX Smart Ageing Innovation Hub. These are co-working spaces available in both Dublin and Limerick for graduates of the ISAX Ingenuity Programme. 
“It’s a myth that starting a business is only for young people.”
When and where does it start? 
In Dublin, the programme will start on the 10th of April, running for two evenings per week in the Guinness Enterprise Centre until the 31st of May.
This year, the programme will run for the first time in Cork, kicking off on the 18th of April and running until the 6th of June.
An information evening for anyone interested in enrolling in the programme in Cork will take place in the Bank of Ireland Workbench on Patricks Street, Cork, on Monday the 12th of March from 5 pm – 7 pm. 
Startups are not just for millennials
“Ireland’s population is ageing and today it’s a myth that starting a business is only for young people. People age 50+ often have greater industry knowledge and established professional networks to help them start a business,” says Anne Connolly, CEO

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