Stop the Splatter! How to Reclaim Your Attention and Get More Done

by Christine Kane

Have you ever been at home all day when there’s nothing in the fridge?

You open the door. You poke your head in. You hum a little tune and look around. You sigh. You grab a handful of pine nuts. You go back to your desk.

About an hour later, you’re hungry.

So you go back to the fridge and look again. Nothing new has appeared. You pull out some black olives, put them on a saucer, and go back to your desk.

You think, “I should go out and get something to eat.” But you don’t. A part of you is convinced that a solution will appear. Maybe a Sous Chef will arrive at your door.

Amazingly, this doesn’t happen.

Eventually you’re back at the fridge. You look in. Then, you close the door, reach up to the cereal cabinet and grab a handful of Kashi…

What happens in this scenario is that you eat all day, but you never feel satisfied. By 5pm, you’re strung out, unfulfilled, and you wonder why.

Here’s why:

You ate. But you never actually fed yourself.

We do this exact same thing with our attention. We dabble in random things. But we never really commit to anything.

I call it Attention Splatter. It’s when you mindlessly and half-heartedly splatter your attention on non-activities. But you never fully engage.

Remember this: Your attention ultimately feeds you. It feeds your heart and your mind. This is why it’s so important to notice what you give your attention to. This is also why splattered attention leaves you unfulfilled. You never actually feed yourself.

The most common Attention Splatter culprits are:

– Email

– Cell phones

– Clutter

– Facebook

– Television

– Endless Google searches

If you are prone to Attention Splatter, here are seven ways to feed yourself and get more done.

1 – Have no more than three priorities for the day.

There’s only so many things you can get done in a day and still enjoy the day. Get into the habit of spending five minutes each night deciding what one thing you want to get done the next day. Ask yourself, “If I only accomplish one thing tomorrow, which one thing would make me most happy?”

2 – Know the task before you sit down at the computer.

This is a must. When you don’t do this, you can get lost in the millions of non-items that any computer has to offer.

Assign tasks. (i.e. “Clean out email folders”) Assign times. (“From 1pm to 2pm”) Stop as soon as the end time arrives.

3 – Put an end to activities that leak.

Make a list of “leaky” activities, and stop the leak by scheduling these activities. (As opposed to letting them take over your day.)

For instance, instead of letting email leak all over your day – all day every day – schedule email as an activity at a certain time each day. Every activity should have a home – a space for its completion. Otherwise, you set yourself up for a full day of splatter.

4 – Leverage your small slices of />
It’s easy to look up at the clock and see that you have, say, 45 minutes before an appointment and think, “Well, I don’t have time to do anything substantial. So, I guess I’ll just go on line.”

Turn your thinking around! Learn to fit constructive things in to small slices of time. It’s amazing what you can complete in a short focused slice of time!

5 – Use your intention.

Before you begin any activity, set an intention for that activity. Intend your desired outcome and how you want to feel during the activity. This is the ultimate act of creativity.

6 – Get rid of anything that doesn’t feed you.

Incoming emails, group emails, magazine subscriptions, news aggregate feeds, TiVo, memberships, unread books…

The list of incoming stuff goes on and on.

Get your life in order. Get rid of anything that doesn’t feed you. If you subscribe to it, ask yourself why. Start letting go of stuff. Doing this one thing has helped me create a home and office environment that is healthy and sacred. Be ruthless about keeping the incoming stuff to a minimum.

7 – Be present in your down-time.

When you take a nap, take a nap. When you take a Saturday off, really take it off. Don’t spend the day obsessing about the things you should be doing. Turn off the computer. Get out of your office. Go away.

Fully disengaging from all of it for fun is imperative. Plus, this will allow you to return with renewed energy and attention!


Christine Kane is the Mentor to Women Who are Changing the World. She helps women uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly LiveCreative eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at


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6 Replies to “Stop the Splatter! How to Reclaim Your Attention and Get More Done”

  1. Monique

    I LOVE the example of repeatedly going to the refrigerator and expecting something to magically appear inside! It is a great metaphor and I hope you won’t mind if I repeat it – giving you credit for it, of course!

    I also love suggestion 5 – use your intention. I generally don’t have a problem focusing unless I am working on something that I don’t want to do. I’m going to try this technique of committing to a mindset and see how it works for me.

    Thanks for an enlightening article!

  2. tracy

    This is the ONLY way I can get things done! The best, best, best is the Pick 3 Things. If I can focus on those, I am not overwhelmed and tend to get a lot more done in any given time slot. Well put.

  3. Jessica

    Three priorities is so key–and it’s when I think, “Only three?! That’s way too few,” that I get myself into trouble. (The days when I slack off and decide, “Eh, let’s just have one priority today,” are actually more productive!)

    Love the term “leaky” for those tasks that are “never” done. The kitchen timer I use to keep ’em contained was by far the best investment I ever made in keeping focused. (Of course, I also have to remember to use it… ;-))

  4. Toccara

    OMG! Are you spying on me? You’ve just described the things that I do daily. I never understood why until now. Thanks for shining some light my way. Now that I know it’s common (I think) it’s time to right the wrong.

  5. alice

    Excellent tips – yes it’s all too easy to get caught up and overwhelmed with these little distractions and they can too easily take over the entire day.
    Keeping a “to do” list of activities next to us provides focus and something to aim for – as well as a sense of satisfaction.
    While social media, twitter and facebook can be very informative, etc, they can also become addictive – something to watch out for!

  6. Deborah Connolly

    Great points here… This is really about shifting your priorities to what you CARE about doing as well – when you begin to focus you learn what resonates with you and are able to produce a much better product/thought/article and outcome. My clients are routinely more fulfilled when they are able to cultivate their true calling into results.

    -Deborah Connolly
    Creative Leadership Coaching

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