If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that to get $hit done, you need to focus. But focus is only one part of the formula. We just can’t work for long hours. The human brain just can’t focus on one single thing for so long. (In fact, my objective is to work less, so I can enjoy life more.)
Our average attention span is 20 minutes. So if you’re going use that as the benchmark, try the Pomodoro Technique out. Work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. – that’s it. It’s so simple. This is based on the idea of time blocking (or blocking time), which I picked up from Brendon Burchard, Michael Hyatt and Cal Newport. It was originally developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
Time blocking to me is probably the best productivity tactic out there. It’s basically blocking certain blocks of time to get something done. You probably know that “work fills to expand the time available”, which is why procrastinators (and closet perfectionists) go crazy.
This 25 minute also coincides with the time taken for switching tasks to regain focus. So if you’re going to take a break of 5 minutes, you got the next 25 minutes to focus on what’s important. The short (5 minute) planned breaks in between allows you to reset your brains’ RAM so you can compute stuff again. The other way is to reset and recharge completely by sleeping at night.
The break allows you to encase the last 25 minutes, and re-evaluate yourself – almost like a reward. This small subconscious course correction will keep you on the flight plan so to speak. Use the 5 minutes to do something different, get up and change the current posture, grab coffee (could take longer) or just do something else that can be done in 2 minutes. And of course, enjoy the moment. It’s the reward for 25 minutes of focused work.
Do this, and over the next week, you’ll be impressed with yourself as to how much work you got done! To boot, it’s less stressful and makes work more fun.
There are plenty of apps that will help you stay focused, whether you want it on your desktop or your mobile is up to you. Or just use a good old ordinary kitchen timer, or your watch alarm. And DON’T skip the 5 minute break, you’ll be tempted to continue working as you get in the flow (can’t blame you). After about 2-3 hours of these 30 minute time blocks, take a 15 minute break to check your email or grab a quick snack/lunch/dinner – whatever suits you.