ilteris kaplan blog

To Control Your Life, Control What You Pay Attention To

December 24, 2023

The article discusses the importance of attention management in controlling one’s life and achieving productivity. It emphasizes the need to control both external factors (such as technology and environment) and internal factors (behavior and thoughts) to effectively manage attention. The author suggests strategies like turning off email notifications, setting boundaries in the workplace, and practicing single-tasking. The article highlights that attention management goes beyond mere task completion; it is about creating a life aligned with one’s priorities and goals.

Considering my interest in balancing work and personal life, here’s a routine inspired by the article to help me set my goals and manage my attention effectively:

Morning Routine

Mindful Start: Begin your day with a moment of mindfulness. Take a few minutes to focus on your breath and set positive intentions for the day.

Goal Setting: Identify the top priorities for the day, both in terms of work and personal life. Write them down to stay focused.

Technology Control:Keep your phone on silent and out of sight during the first hour of your day. This helps in avoiding early distractions.

Work Hours

Single-Tasking: Open only one window on your computer screen, and give your full attention to one task until it’s complete or until a designated stopping point.

Scheduled Breaks: Take short breaks throughout the day to step away fromyour computer. Use this time to recharge and refocus.

Distraction-Free Time: Designate specific times for deep work without external interruptions. Consider using a “do not disturb” sign or noise-canceling headphones.

Lunch Break

Unplugged Lunch: Disconnect from technology during your lunch break. Enjoy your meal without emails or notifications.

Afternoon Hours

Prioritization: Review your goals for the day and adjust them if needed. Focus on the most critical tasks to ensure productivity.

Collaboration Time: Schedule meetings and collaborative work during the times you feel most energetic and focused.

Evening Routine

Technology Curfew: Set a specific time to turn off work-related notifications. This marks the transition from work to personal time.

Family Time: Allocate dedicated time for your family. This could include dinner together, engaging in activities, or simply having quality conversations.

Reflective Time: Before bed, reflect on your achievements for the day and express gratitude for positive experiences.


No-Distraction Day: Designate one day of the weekend as a “no distractions” day, where you focus on personal activities, hobbies, and spending quality time with family.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Take some time on Sunday to plan your upcoming week. Set both professional and personal goals. Remember, the key is to be intentional about where you direct your attention. This routine combines elements of attention management, goal setting, and a balance between work and personal life. Adjust it based on your preferences and specific needs. Your commitment to this routine can help you reclaim control over your time and priorities.

Written by Ilteris Kaplan who still lives and works in New York. Twitter