Focus, Grasshopper, Focus

focus

Ever feel like you’re working really hard and still not getting everything done?

Uh, yeah, Greg, like everyday. Was that a trick question?

A friend has been trying a new focus technique that has helped some, but I think we can do better:

Greg,

I have been using the Pomodoro Technique. Focusing on one thing for 22 minutes, then walking around or resting for 8 minutes, and then repeating…

I try to do that to get 22 min of uninterrupted time. If I try longer than that, something breaks it up.

Also, I can usually get 4 of those reps in a day.

What do you think?

Personally, I need more than 22 minutes to really focus and get into my flow. I’ve seen research that says it takes most people 5-10 minutes to get back in a deep thinking frame of mind each time they are interrupted.

The average American worker is interrupted 50 times a day! No wonder we feel like we never get anything done.

Other research says most of us can focus for 40-50 minutes at a time.

I turn all notifications for phone, email, text, twitter, etc. off and do 45 minutes or so with zero interruptions. Then I’ll take a break for a few minutes, do another hour and then work out. Then I’ll check all messages, turn everything off and get another hour in.

I don’t do that every day, but when I do I get a ton done and feel awesome. If you are worried you will miss something really important you can leave your phone ringer on, but nothing else.

It helps to tell others what you’re doing. I have it in my email signature “In order to be as efficient as possible, I only check my email at 9:30am and 6pm. If there is an emergency, you may call me.” (People who would need my number in an emergency already have it.)

I got the time block out technique from Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book, The ONE Thing. Their idea is to block out four hours each day to concentrate on your ONE Thing. Let everyone know what you’re doing and why. (Start with one hour and build from there.)

Be protective of that time.

In an interview with Forbes, Keller put it this way:

“Think of it like going to the movies. You’re there for ONE Thing—to see the film. Because you’re really clear about that, you turn off your cell phone, you grab snacks in case you get hungry, and you probably even make a pit stop before you go in. All this so you can have an uninterrupted experience.

“When you time block your most important work and treat it like going to the movies—you make a stand around avoiding distractions—amazing things happen. When you start thinking of your days this way, the burden of always having to be ‘on’ goes away and you end up accomplishing more.”

You will have to get creative on how you block out that time. Make sure everyone who needs to know understands why you are doing this. Your boss and your colleagues will be very happy when they start to see the increased creativity and productivity in your work. If you are the boss, or you’re self-employed, you are going to be shocked at how much more of the important stuff you get done when you start focusing four hours a day on the ONE Thing.

Action Steps: 1) Explain to others how and when you are focusing without distractions. 2) Get a timer. 3) Set it for 50 minutes. 4) Focus and Go! 5) Take a break, talk with friends, check messages. 6) Repeat.

Questions for comments: Have you tried this? Does it work for you? What do you do to stay focused?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that I view as rude, snarky, mean or off-topic. Hey, this is to support each other and have fun! Let's Go!

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