I used to think time was the most limited resource. It’s so limited that you can’t even save it for later. Every day you spend more time, and tomorrow you have less than you had yesterday. You can’t make more, and you can’t really buy more, so it’s limited and fleeting and those are the rules.
But there’s something even more limited than time. It’s your attention. Attention is a subset of time, therefore it’s more limited. How you spend your attention is more important than how you spend your time.
Attention is about focus and careful, thoughtful consideration. Unlike time – which can be broken into convenient chunks of 15 minutes – attention doesn’t divide quite so neatly or easily.
You hear a lot about “quality time” being valuable, but I think quality attention is invaluable. Giving someone your attention is giving more than just giving your time.
The greatest things you make and do are the ones that get your full attention. It’s helpful to take an inventory of what you’re doing and then ask yourself where you’re spending your best attention. You can fill your time, but you have to spend your attention. How you spend it is probably a better measure of priority than anything else.
Next time you say yes to something, ask yourself if yes means “yes, I can do that” or “yes, I can spend my attention on that.” If you’re not willing to spend your attention on it, is it worth doing? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a good thing to think about the next time you take something on.