Increasing Sales Productivity Using Attention Management, with Maura Thomas [Episode 784]

Maura Thomas is the author of, Attention Management: How to Create Success and Gain Productivity Every Day.

In today’s episode, Maura shares with us why “time management” is not the solution for increasing your personal productivity. When distraction is the enemy, and that distraction comes in an increasing number of digital forms, the cure is “attention management.”

Listen and learn how to manage your attention in a communications economy driven by capturing and holding your attention.

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Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: What buyers define value as is progress. If I had a meeting with you as a seller, the value is, am I closer to making a decision have we made progress, towards making a decision as a result of this interaction? That has value in the absence of that there’s no value.

Maura Thomas: That’s right. And there’s actually a couple more words your, right?

Progress is a powerful motivator, but there’s a second component of motivation, kind of at the top of the list of motivation, which is meaning. And actually I think from the progress principle, they say making progress in meaningful work, and that’s where these sort of reactive tasks are so deceiving because it feels like, yep. Read that email check made progress. Right? One fewer email in my inbox made progress, but it wasn’t meaningful progress.

maura thomas quote boost motivation by making progress

Andy Paul: Hi friends welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. I’m your host, Andy Paul. That was Maura Thomas. And she’s the author of book titled Attention Management: How to Create Success and Gain Productivity Every Day. And Maura’s joining me today on Sales Enablement episode 784 to talk about individual personal productivity. Now Maura is going to share with us why time management is not the solution to increasing personal productivity because when distraction is the enemy and that distraction comes in an increasing number of digital forms, the cure is what Maura calls, Attention Management.

We’ll dig into why we’re thinking about productivity all wrong and how to manage your attention. If you think of your attention as an asset that you’re trying to manage,  we’re talking about how to manage your attention, accomplish that in a communications economy, which has driven and profits by holding and capturing your attention. Otherwise distracting you. So we’re going to dive into some very specific strategies and tips Maura has for managing and eliminating the distractions that are bleeding away, your attention and your productivity. So all of this and much, much more, but before we get to Maura, I want to let you know that the whole team of people who work here to produce this podcast are incredibly grateful for all of you who support us by listening to the show.

Telling your friends and sharing on social media and most importantly, subscribing to the show and giving us your feedback in the form of a rating and review. And if you haven’t already connected with me on LinkedIn, please do you can search me, Andy Paul or the usual preamble and LinkedIn slash realAndy Paul. All right, let’s jump into it with Maura. Maura Thomas, welcome to the show.

Maura Thomas: Thanks for having me on Andy. Happy to be here.

Andy Paul: Well, it’s nice to meet you. You’re joining us from where today?

Maura Thomas: From sunny Austin, Texas today.

Andy Paul: Sunny Austin, Texas. That’s that sounds, sounds nice. It’s not sunny where I am. In fact though, the windows are rattling because the wind’s blowing so hard.

Maura Thomas: Beautiful day here in Austin, Texas.

Andy Paul: But the question is, since we’re recording this in the middle of the great COVID shutdown is can you leave the house?

Maura Thomas: Not really. I mean, we go out and exercise hikes and bike rides and that kind of thing. But our big outing these days is the grocery store.

Andy Paul: Fully masked up and gloved up. Right?

Maura Thomas: Yep. Yep.

Andy Paul: Got to do it. Yeah. It’s a different, a different experience days. So it makes you wonder as you know, when’s it going to be a point in time when we feel comfortable going to the grocery store without a mask and gloves?

Maura Thomas: It’s such a new world. I’m wondering if handshakes are gone forever.

Andy Paul: Well, yeah, I’ve thought about that. It’s it’s a good question. You, especially when you’re in sales, you’re out meeting people all the time, depending on your job is you could be up all the time. Meeting customers in the field is like, yeah. Yeah. Maybe we’ll all adopt bowing as the new custom.

Maura Thomas: Yeah. It’s going to be interesting. That’s for sure. And my work involves so much travel. I’m wondering when I’m going to feel comfortable getting on a plane again.

How to Increase Sales Productivity with Attention Management

Andy Paul: Yeah, well, I, I, on the plane usually four times a month, that’s like, yeah, I worry about the same thing. We’re not worried, but wonder about the same thing is actually my wife and I have our first airline flight booked for the 28th of this month, which is may that we’re recording this. It’s like, Okay, we’re going to do it and we got to do it. So it’s like, okay. Be prepped, which we were, the last time we flew right before the shutdown went into effect, as, you know, mask gloves, you know, sanitizing wipes to wipe down our area, all that stuff. So, yeah. Brave new world. So. All right, we’re going to, I’m glad you’re joining us. Cause we’re gonna talk about your book, attention management, how to create success and gain productivity every day. And now productivity is a big topic of mine that the most fascinated talk to people about. So how do you define productivity?

Maura Thomas: It’s a great question because we throw around words and it’s so important to know if we’re all on the same page.

So thanks for asking. There’s a very specific definition of the word productive that guides my work and it is achieving or producing a significant amount or results. Now there’s a sort of a manufacturing piece or a production piece in that definition, producing an amount. But if we take that piece out, what we’re left with, I think is the personal productivity piece, achieving a significant result.

So how productive you are is how much progress you have made on the results that are significant to you. And do you get to define significance?

Andy Paul: I’m glad you define that for us. Cause that aligns with what I believe productivity is in part, I mean, in sales you have outcomes, right? You know, you’re getting an order for a certain amount of revenue, but I look at it as if you’re doing activity that isn’t going to contribute to producing an outcome, then isn’t by definition isn’t that perhaps unproductive work

Maura Thomas: And a significant outcome of that.

Andy Paul: Right.

Maura Thomas: Exactly. And that’s the thing is that we spend so much, it’s very easy for our days to pass where all we do is react. We answer emails, we answer the phone, we answer instant messages, chats, communication. We react to all of those things. And at the end of the day, you feel like you didn’t even have a minute to breathe, but you actually got really nothing done.

Andy Paul: Even though you felt like you got a lot done. Yeah, exactly. So you had an interesting phrase in the book. Interesting. Your interpretation of it. You said, quote, we, we undervalue the achievement and overvalue the importance of the interruption. So tell us what you meant by that.

Maura Thomas: Yeah. I have an example from a client that I think. Just, um, just shows how true this is so clearly. That the, I tried, I, I teach in my, in my sessions that people should close out their email so that they can do important work. So this guy we’ll call him Joe. He had this really important project. Job was riding on the success of this kind of project that he had to do to get done. It was due and he didn’t close his email and he got an email from his boss and he was, he felt good that he was checking all of the emails as they came in while he was doing this project, because one of them was from his boss and he was able to respond to his boss.

Immediately with the answer that his boss was looking for. And he said, see, I would have missed that. Had I closed out my email? And I said, but how much longer did it take you to do the project? Yeah, yeah, yeah. But my boss is really important. So then I said, well, let’s talk to your boss. Was that really urgent?

Was that worth interrupting to get the answers to that question? The boss said, no, I want to just gotten it from someone else. It wasn’t unimportant at all. But, but Joe said to me, but see, he would have gotten it from someone else. So it’s such a good thing that I like. It was some sort of contest, right?

The, he had to be the one to answer his boss immediately, never mind that he was interrupted while he was doing the project, that it was a critically important project that it took him much longer to do it, that it needed more proofreading when he was done. Nevermind. All that. He could answer his boss immediately.

Andy Paul: Well, it sort, it gets to that point about, uh, sort of having a, a mindset of scarcity. Right. When Joe was thinking, Joe was thinking, well, there’s not enough credit to go around. So, uh, I need to make sure I grabbed some of that.

Maura Thomas: Exactly, exactly right.

herbert simon quote wealth of information creates poverty of attention

Andy Paul: Which creates and contributes to distractions. Right. Um, And you said, you said that’s not the problem. And so, or distraction is the problem. So it’s time management. Isn’t the issue. You talk about being able to manage our attention. So define attention.

Maura Thomas: Attention to me. Well, I’ll define attention management as sort of, I use it in my work, but attention management is a combination of behaviors that where the end results when you are managing your attention effectively, is that you can recognize the brain state that you’re in and shift to the state that will serve you in the moment. So in the book I define four Brain States and of course it’s an oversimplification, but four Brain States, reactive and distracted;  focused and mindful; daydreaming or mind-wandering; and flow. Now, all of those, except for flow is, is something that we can choose, right? We, we can, we can either allow distractions and be reactive and distracted.

We can, um, allow our mind to wander, or we can decide that we are going to be focused on a thing. Flow is something that happens to your brain on its own. But if you focus for long enough, you might get lucky enough to tip into flow. And it’s a brain state that you’re brain enters all on its own.

So if you are managing your attention successfully, you can recognize, look, I am actually feeling reactive and distracted. My emails open, people are dropping by my office, but I need to be focused and mindful to get this report done, for example. So I’m not in the right brain state to get the right results for this task that is ahead of me or this experience I’m having, or this moment that I’m in or this conversation. What brain state do I need to be in? And am I in the right one? And if not, I need to shift. When you can do that, then you are managing your attention successfully.

Andy Paul: Well I think it’s useful because as I was reading the book, it was called the mind. A study that have been done by Herbert Simon, who was a Nobel prize winner who had written this white paper in the early seventies saying that there is…It’s a very interesting paper because he basically forecasts the internet well before its existence saying there will come a time in the future where we have so many sources of information contending for our attention and he said, you know, the part of the study was, well, how do we decide how to allocate, you know, he’d call it slices of our attention, to which sources of information. And I think it’s really useful for people to sort of think about attention as this, in a physical way. I mean, it’s, it’s like, you know, if you’re a telecom person, you’d think about bandwidth, right.

And when our limited resources bandwidth in this communications pipe. Well, it’s pretty similar with attention, right? Is how are you, how are you allocating? You got this finite, the amount of this physical resource attention. How do you make decisions, how to slice it and how to devote which portions of that, to which sources of information. Cause these are to your point, you know, these sorts of information can be a distraction or they can help you make progress.

Maura Thomas: Exactly. And I think Herbert Simon’s work was so prescient and I quote him in the book. Um, a quote I saw from him is one of the things that sort of led me down this path of attention management, where he says what information consumes is rather obvious.

It consumes the attention of its recipient. Therefore, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. And that is exactly our problem. Is that there is so much information and that information isn’t passive, that information gets pushed to us through our technology. And so it leaves very little attention left for us to direct to the things that are most important to us.

Andy Paul: The thing that was interesting, I thought about Simon’s work though, is that he said that we tend to make economic decisions about how we’re going to allocate slices of our attention. That we prioritize based on sort a, an ROI on the use of that time. Have we lost that ability to do that?

Maura Thomas: I think. I’m not sure that I’m qualified to say whether or not we’ve lost it. But what I will say is that we have become so habituated to distraction that we don’t often make conscious choices because by definition, a habit is something that we do without even thinking usually. And so we, we are so used to… Studies show, Gloria Mark’s work shows, that we switch what we’re doing about every three minutes, usually in response to some sort of external or internal stimulus. Either I’m bored. So let me go look at my phone or, um, my phone just dinged at me. So let me look at it.

Andy Paul: And then we have the settling time, as you talked about, to get reengaged.

Maura Thomas: That’s right. That’s right. Which could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the amount of what I call brainpower momentum you had built up on that task.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And I’ve used this example in talking with sales teams. And I was giving a webinar, or not webinar, but a seminar to a team of about a hundred sellers. And, and I asked, I said, so., who keeps their personal phone on their desks when they’re in the middle of their call block.  You know, they’re making outbound, proactive, outbound calls and virtually everybody raises their hand. And I said, well, okay, how many of you will look at your phone? If you’re in the middle of a phone call and you get a notification, get an email, you get a social updates, something happens. And they all raised their hands, virtually everybody. I’m sitting there thinking, Gosh, you just spent, your company and you combined have spent all this time and energy to be able to connect with this person on the phone, you get them on the phone. And the first thing you do is let your attention wander.

What it Takes to Battle Distraction During Your Sales Process

That’s right. That’s right. We’ve gotten to the point. We’ve become so habituated to distraction that doing only one thing at a time has become boring. We are so used to sitting on the couch, watching TV and scrolling through Facebook, eating dinner and watching TV or reading a book and riding an elevator and looking at our phone, right. We’ve lost what I call those in between moments where we have that opportunity to let our minds wander, which is where insights come from.

Andy Paul: Exactly.

Maura Thomas: And not only that, but we, we just, can’t trying to doing two things at once has become the standard because only one at a time is just boring.

Andy Paul: Well, it’s boring or we, we fear being alone by ourselves.

Maura Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. There’s a, um, Ned Hallowell psychiatrist calls it, um, looking into the void, right. That self reflection that happens sometimes when we are alone with our thoughts. Many people would rather do just about anything than self-reflect

Andy Paul: Yeah. So it gets this idea that you talk about daydreaming. I call it rumination is this is you’re talking about one of the sort of three states is daydreaming. Rumination or whatever, just letting your mind wander. Um, people might think, well, that’s a waste of your attention, actually, it’s, it’s usually productive.

Maura Thomas: It’s super productive. We have forgotten that  just being is productive because when our minds wander and for me, I, I sort of see a difference between rumination and daydreaming.

Rumination sounds a little bit more punitive to me, rumination is kind of when I’m beating myself up about something that happened, or I should’ve said this, or I should’ve done that, or I should have handled that differently, Or, um, that’s how I, that’s what I think of as rumination to me, daydreaming is just sort of reflecting on what I read or what I’ve seen or what I’ve heard or what I’ve done and making connections. And just, you know, seeing, seeing what my brain produces, because that’s when we get the solutions to problems, that’s when we have an insight. Our brains are not obedient, right? You can’t say to yourself, I will now solve the problem. Your brain does doesn’t work that way. You have to sort of, um…  there’s a book called Nudge where they described the elephant and the rider. I think, I think it’s in Nudge, um, where they write your consciousness is the rider and your brain is the elephant. The elephant is a very powerful beast. If you let it do its thing, right? Sometimes the rider has to get off the elephant and just let the elephant do its thing.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I’ve used as examples for sellers before, but I, again, I call it rumination. I agree with you. I did, it speaks to a little bit level of deliberation perhaps than, than daydreaming, but is that. Yeah. The, since we’ve seemingly do it less is, everybody wants to serve, put things away. You know, one things about the digital distractions, especially in sales, you know, we okay. We’re going to update Salesforce with the record of this call and it’s interaction we just had with this buyer. And then I’m not gonna think about it again, cause I know it’s in Salesforce. Whereas instead it’s like, yeah, but we need to keep whatever the term rumination or daydreaming, it’s gotta be there. Cause that’s how we process what’s what’s going to happen next. Um, and this isn’t wasted time is to your point is I think that a lot of people think it is, cause I gotta be doing something it’s like, no, this is, this is hugely productive. This is how you solve problems. You can sit down to solve a math equation, but oftentimes if it’s something you haven’t done before, you’ll take a break. You may go take a shower. The solution will come to you in the shower. All my great fears in life, all the good thoughts come in the shower and I don’t write them down or I have to make sure I’m conscious about writing them down as soon as I get out

maura thomas quote about immediate and imperative communication

Maura Thomas: Because the shower is one of the few places these days, although not for much longer where we don’t have our phones in our hands.

Andy Paul: I think I’ll avoid having mine in there. I don’t know how about you?

Maura Thomas: Uh, yes, I think so. And I have seen actually I haven’t seen them, but I have been told by a client that there are, um, tile crayons so that you can yeah. So that you can keep them in the shower so that you  can capture those great ideas that you have by writing on your shower tiles with the crayons.

Andy Paul: That’s going on my list here. I’m writing that down. Um, but not the key points you make about, uh, you know, the idea of being distracted and, and our attention being diverted is that. The technology sort of makes us think. I won’t be able to consume things in fast, short and simple ways. And the world is not short, fast and simple.

Maura Thomas: Exactly. It conditions us to accept sound soundbites. Instead of, um, instead of really understanding something. And so as a result, we have a tiny bit of information about a breathtaking number of things and, and very, and, and deeper knowledge about very few.

Andy Paul: And I see this all the time with the way we represent data, like in graphic form. And obviously we live in the world of big data and sales is a field where almost as much as any or more so than any, we’ve got this influx of data about conversions, yada, yada, yada, and behaviors. But very often people don’t want to dig in and say, okay, well what’s really going on here. What’s the context here. You know, Daniel Levitin writes about this in his book, The Field Guide to lies, is, is our superficial understanding of, of all these data, because we don’t want to do your point in the book is, yeah if we try to, if we require something that’s more cognitively demanding, it must be difficult.

Maura Thomas: Right. And I don’t have time for that. I don’t have the patience for that. Cause that’s really the, one of the more insidious things about becoming habituated to distraction is that not only does it chip away at our attention span and our ability to maintain our focus for any period of time, but it chips away at our patience. So we, we also don’t have the desire to spend an extended period of time on anything because we’re not, we’re too impatient. That’s going to take too long. That’s too hard. I don’t have time for that right now, but yet, it’s when we do those things, that is when we are the most satisfied, that is when we feel the most accomplished, you know, that gives us that feeling of contentment and satisfaction at the end of our work days, when we get those meaty things done.

Your Buyers Define ‘Value’ as Progress

Andy Paul: When we make progress. I ike the part you’d had the quote from a psychologist Teres Annabel and Steve Kramer. It says, I guess this principle, they called the progress principle. Uh, the single most important thing, you know, of all the things that can boast quote was of all things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during workday, the single most important is making progress.  And I find this so interesting because on the buyer’s side, there’s been a dump, a bunch of research done about buying behavior. And someone said, well, how do, how do buyers define value when they’re interacting with sellers, how do they define value? And it goes, you know, value is one of these great cliche terms we use in sales all the time and what buyers define value as progress. You know, when I had a meeting with you as a seller, the value is, am I closer to making a decision. Have I made progress toward making a decision as a result of this interaction that has value in the absence of that there was no value

Maura Thomas: that’s right. And there’s actually a couple more words. You write progress is a powerful motivator, but there’s a second, um, component of motivation or that kind of at the top of the list of motivation. Um, which has meaning, right. And actually I think from the progress principle, they say making progress in meaningful work, and that’s where these sort of reactive tasks are so deceiving because, you know, it feels like, yep, read that email check. Made progress. Right? One fewer email in my inbox made progress, but it wasn’t a meaningful, it wasn’t meaningful progress. And so we don’t feel particularly satisfied at the end of the day. And you’re right, that sales person could say, check one more sales call I made. But if the buyer didn’t, if their customer didn’t come closer to the buyer, to the buying decision, then it wasn’t meaningful progress and it matters much less.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I mean, again, you talked about sort of the, the busy-ness part of things, as you know, people wear that as a badge of honor, as opposed to actually getting things done.

Maura Thomas: Exactly.

Andy Paul: Well, I want to go through some of the tips you had about attention management. We sort of touched on some of them. You talked about turning your phone off when you’re doing other things.

Um, Yeah. I remember this another seminar I gave to a client where I talked about that. I said, you know, when you’re meeting with a client, either virtually or in person, and in this case, these people tend to meet with their clients in person, field sellers is I said, turn your phone off and put it in a backpack or a purse or leave it in the car. And you had one woman in the group just said, I can’t do that. I’ve got great school aged kids and I need to be available at all times. And I was like, well, how do you answer that?

Maura Thomas: It’s interesting because you’re exactly right. I would say in the car is the best, is the best recommendation because a study out of Virginia Tech showed that. Having our phone in our presence, even if we can’t see it, even if it’s face down in silent or if it’s, you know, in a pocket or in a bag, but still in the room, it lowers our cognitive capacity, according to the study. People performed better when the phone was. In a different physical space. And when people say I need to be available 100% of the time, the truth is they, number one, they simply aren’t regardless. Even if they do have their phone with them, there are times when they are asleep and there are times when they are in the restroom. Although with don’t even get me started on phone use in the restroom, but, um, number one, they aren’t. And number two generations of children grew up just fine without being, without having their parents accessible to them every minute of every day, 24/7/365. And the truth is. Well, how long is that sales call an hour? If you can, if you feel like you can’t be away from your device for an hour, then I would suggest probably you don’t need help with your productivity. You need help from a licensed mental health professional.

Andy Paul: I usually preface the conversation as the seminar, by holding up the phone and sending it out. A WMD. This is a weapon of mass distraction. Yeah. We tend people think, well, okay. If I leave in the car, then how am I going to set up the meeting with the buyer when it, then the meeting? It’s like, well, go get it.

Maura Thomas: Yeah.

Andy Paul: I mean, alternatively, you know, I’ll suggest to sellers is, what’d you do is you hold up your phone to the buyer and make a show of turning it off. Completely powering it down at the start of the meeting and saying, this is a really important meeting. I’ll make sure we’re not disturbed. Turn the phone off. And then you sort of shame the buyer into doing the same thing.

Maura Thomas: Exactly right. Somebody asked me that in a, in a virtual session I did the other day. How do you get other people to pay attention to you? It’s like, sadly, we can’t control what other people do. The only thing we can do is influence them to behave in the ways we would like them to behave. And one of the ways we can influence them is to model that behavior.

Andy Paul: Yeah, so another you’re talking about is recommendation for maintaining attention management is checking your email on scheduled intervals. And I think this is hugely important and I’m not always optimum, not always consistent with this, but like when I’m writing either a blog or I’m writing a book, as I’m in the process of writing now, my next book is, yeah, I go into composition mode that silences all notifications.

maura thomas quote about distraction and habits

Maura Thomas: Yep, I would say, I would say. Um, scheduled is one word, periodic intervals is another word. I don’t necessarily. A lot of, I think there are some people who make what I consider to be a mistake by, by publicly announcing, you know, I check my email at 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Um, And I think that the idea, the concept behind that is a good one periodically throughout the day. Absolutely. But when, but there’s always going to be a time where you can’t, because that means that everybody who sent you an email between, you know, 7:00 AM or 7:00 PM last night and 10:00 AM this morning is going to expect a response from you at 10:01. So, um, and there will be times where you can’t keep to that schedule. And so I think it’s useful to make it a little bit more fluid and check email periodically throughout the day, rather than leaving email open and downloading all the time, close it out, do what you need to do and then, and then decide, okay, for the next hour, I need to deal with my email. And then it’s email time. The problem with that is that we have, as a society, I think at least many of my clients have mistaken the availability of immediate communication with the, um, imperative for immediate communication, right. Just because I could answer it immediately doesn’t mean I have to. And so people are trying to use email as a synchronous communication device. What I tell my clients is if you’re doing that, you’re doing it wrong. Email is an asynchronous communication device and you’ll never get anything meaningful done. If you try to read every email as it arrives.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, I agree. And I think you have to, you have to prioritize, I mean, I’ve seen instances in sales and I advocate this and it depends on the environment, cause it’s not the same for all environments, where this ability to be responsive in a value added way. It is a competitive advantage, uh, where it works for the buyers, because the buyers are trying to work through something relatively quickly. Yeah, I see buyer’s motivation generally is they want to be able to quickly gather information, to make a good decision with the least investment of time and effort possible, and if you can can help them achieve that then that’s your advantage, but typically you’re doing that within a defined period of time within the day.

Maura Thomas: Yes. Or through a defined channel. Right. So I often suggest that people put a line in their email that says something like, cause you’re right, you don’t only have your customers hanging. You want to give them a path to reach you if, if they need something in a time sensitive manner but email shouldn’t be it. So I suggest people put a line in their email signature that says something like I check my email periodically throughout the day. However, if you have a more time, urgent or time sensitive needs, please feel free to whatever. Call me, text me, have me page, whatever, whatever the path is. And I think you can message that to your clients. Um, as a competitive advantage by saying. Yeah, your work is important and I will do it better when I can do it in an undistracted way. And so, as a result, I can’t be checking every email as it arrives and you’ll get better work if I’m not.

Andy Paul: Yeah. So nothing you recommend, which I think is very useful. And I, again, I use them usually during serve concentrated sprints or someone as timers. I use a Pomodoro timer, so 25 minutes on 5 minutes off, stand up and walk around and do something different. What’s your take on that?

Maura Thomas: The idea is that human beings gravitate naturally towards stopping points. And so we need to. Um, oftentimes the way that we, that we write things down on our to do list or enter things into our to do list is, uh, we enter it in a way that isn’t really helpful. We’ll say things like, um, you know, plan the strategy or roll out the product, or even, you know, write the book or, um, things that are not really actionable. And so I recommend that people break things down into small bites. So be very specific in those small bites about, you know, start the task. When you write it down with an action verb, something that is actionable, like organize is an action verb, but it’s not really actionable. What does that even mean? Like how, how would you start that? Right at this moment. It requires thought, but something like, um, you know, as opposed to organize, organize the staff meeting, you might say email the staff about the meeting, because that’s very clear, it’s actionable, you know exactly what it means.

Andy Paul: Yeah, David Allen would say before he could do that in his Getting Things Done, as you would have to say, define what the agenda is. Say, you know, determine who needs to be invited. He would say you actually have like six or seven pre-steps there. If you really, if you really break it down.

Maura Thomas: In that example, yes, there could be. But when it comes to that, you know, those, those sprints. You need to have some sort of stopping point, so right. You and I, working on books, we might say, um, incorporate the edits from the publisher is something that is often on my to do list, right. He sends the chapter off, they send it back with all the, all the track changes in it. Right. And so incorporate the edits. Well, if I just said incorporate the edits and I’ve got four chapters to do, I’m going to skip that all day long. So I might say incorporate the edits for the first five pages or incorporate the edits for chapter two or incorporate the edits for 30 minutes and use a timer. It doesn’t really matter what the stopping point is. The point is you need to give yourself a stopping point. Now you might build up enough activation energy, right? You might get rolling. You might have that brainpower momentum that I talk about and you might think, wow, I’m on a roll. I’m not, I’m going to blow right through this timer or the stopping point that I’ve set. Great do that. But if you’re, if you are having trouble with your focus, when the timer goes off, or when you get to the end of the chapter or the five pages or whatever you’ve set at that stuffing point is it’s really useful to have a stopping point.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I think the challenge for, for salespeople throughout this whole discussion we’re having with Maura is, and this idea of attention management, which is so critical is that you have to break free from this, this idea that so much of what you do is sort of process driven and the char on autopilot.

And because attention management requires. Being deliberate about the choices you make. And, and this is, this is oftentimes hard for sellers understands that you have this choice, right? How are you going to, how are you going to spend this time or invest this time in a way that enables your buyers to make progress

Maura Thomas: Well, and you’re exactly right. And if you’re going to, in order to add value, You need to be more than just transactional, right? And these, these reactive processes, answering emails, answering the phone, um, you know, reacting to all the variety of distractions that assault us all day long. Those are sort of transactional as opposed to.

Putting together a thoughtful proposal or report or, um, you know, analysis for your client to offer something that is really valuable beyond the transaction. You need to be thoughtful and undistracted for an extended period of time. So I really think that attention management is a competitive advantage for sales staff.

Andy Paul: Oh, I, I agree. And so I urge people who are listing to, to buy this book. Maura promised. when she sent it to me, you could read it in an hour or less, which I did, which promised, delivered, which from a sales standpoint, always, always builds your credibility. The book’s called Attention Management: How to Create Success and Gain Productivity Every Day. And yeah, I recommend people pick up and read. It’s a quick, easy read, but a lot of great information in there. Maura, how can people connect and find out more about what you’re doing?

Maura Thomas: If your listeners want to assess their own level of attention management, I’ve created an assessment for that, and they can take that for free at maurathomas.com/assessment, and that will put them, based on their answers in the assessment, it will put them on the path and give them a starting point.

Andy Paul: Excellent.

Maura Thomas: Alright,

Andy Paul: Maura, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for joining me.

Maura Thomas: Thanks so much for having me, Andy.

Andy Paul: Okay friends, that’s it for this episode. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to listen. I am so grateful for your support of the show, and I want to thank Maura Thomas for sharing her insights with us today.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to this podcast Sales Enablement with Andy Paul on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to this show. And if you could also leave us a rating or review and let us know how we’re doing, we’d appreciate it. You can do all that on your phone on less than a minute, as soon as this podcast is over.

So thank you for your help and thank you so much for investing in your personal development today. Intil next time. I’m your host, Andy Paul. Good selling everyone.