Building the ability to focus is one of the most key skills in life, especially in any professional setting. To be an effective and efficient worker you need to be able to focus on the task at hand and to be able to block out distractions that hamper your work and make the working day last longer and longer.
This takes training, and is something that has become harder and harder in recent times due to the amount of opportunity for instant entertainment and easy distractions. It’s always very tempting to put off that work and stick on the next episode on Netflix, Youtube or to scroll Twitter or Instagram for a little longer….then 3-4 hours have gone by.
Today I’m going to talk about 2 things related to building focus, the Pomodoro technique and my personal favourite app to track Pomodoro sessions.
The Pomodoro technique is a focus building exercise where you pre-commit to a length of time to perform a certain task. This was developed in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo where he grabbed a tomato kitchen timer and set it to 25 minutes for the set task and then 5 minutes for a break.
Here’s how to go about doing it. Shut off all distractions that may pull you away from the task in hand – phone, email, Internet, Youtube etc.
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
Have a drink of water handy before you start you don’t want to disrupt workflow getting up and away from your work.
In the 5 minutes break don’t go on e-mails, twitter, Youtube etc as you will end up reading/watching something that will stick in your mind and distract you from your next session.
Keep a notepad next to you so that you can note down anything that does distract you, and over time see what is a recurring distraction.
Next I want to talk about my Pomodoro App of choice, of course you can use any old timer but I think this app works really well for me.
In Forest you have a patch of grass everyday on which to try and grow little trees. Once you set the length of a session and start it a little tree will grow, if you end your session early the tree will wither and die.
It changes focus building into a little challenge and adds a little psychological weight to it too, in that I don’t want my little trees do die and I want to try and fill that patch of grass everyday.
As I said this works for me but a simple timer will get you started on Pomodoro sessions.
I hope this helps you guys, try it out and see how more effective you can be in your work.