In my contempo article on time blocking, I talked about how time blocking works, a few ways to brand it happen for yous, and a few of the benefits. Even so, there’s no point blocking out 3 hours of the day to work on something if you’re unable to use it well! Today, I desire to focus on… well… focus!
Time blocking, a epitomize
Particularly when y’all’ve got a big, scary task in front of you lot, the sheer volume of work can put you lot off and crusade you to procrastinate or succumb to distraction. However, once y’all actually get-go, information technology’s rarely as hard as y’all’d feared.
This is because once yous start, and if you’ve gear up upwardly the right environs, you tin enter a ‘flow’ land where bang-up work just seems to menstruum out of you lot. Time blocking can be an incredible way to facilitate flow and approach these big, scary tasks.
Especially in artistic or knowledge piece of work, it tin have time for you lot to get into the correct mindset. Ane hour is rarely enough to make a large deviation to your piece of work. Generally, two to three hours is the sweet spot since information technology gives you fourth dimension to go into a groove, without exhausting or tedious you.
So, the side by side fourth dimension yous feel overwhelmed past a job, try scheduling a solid three hour block of fourth dimension to go information technology washed. You may find yourself really making dandy progress toward finishing it, thus reducing stress, clearing out your head, and generally making you feel pretty accomplished and ready to confront whatever comes next.
Finding your focus
That three hours of blocked out time will do you no good unless you’re able to focus. And by ‘focus’ I hateful not only being able to focus on your piece of work, only too focusing on what needs to be washed, i.eastward. prioritizing.
Determine what’s important
yous should focus),
then do the important things
Prioritizing can be done in many ways:
- Using an Eisenhower matrix to identify urgent vs. important tasks
- Employ a GTD action listing (check out the basics here)
- Eating the frog (doing the hardest thing first)
- Assessing the value of tasks and their impact on your personal/business concern goals
- Ordering by estimated effort
Whatever method yous choose, your ability to recognize what’s irrelevant to your master goals and ignore it (to say ‘no’), is just as important every bit your ability to detect and focus on priorities. As superhumanly productive Tim Ferriss says,
“Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness.”
Putting it into practice
These lofty goals of carving out your blocks of time and getting down to an incredibly productive, well-prioritized, and focused few hours of deep work may seem unattainable, just at that place are several tricks you lot tin use to get in happen.
The post-obit tips volition help you lot re-railroad train your attention and set your environs to support your all-time work.
The outset, most obvious step is to avert lark. Distraction and loss of focus is naught new. The Stoic philosopher, Seneca, wrote in his “Letters From A Stoic” (penned almost 2000 years ago),
“There is never a time when new distraction will not testify upward.”
Distractions will ever be in that location, so the all-time thing you can do is to
manage your attention, rather than your time. Blocking a few hours out of your calendar is the piece of cake flake! Adjacent y’all demand to set up yourself upward for success by doing everything you can to simply stop distractions from happening in the first identify.
Alerts and notifications are
to grab and monopolize our attention. We’re physiologically and psychologically hardwired to respond to alerts, even when those alerts are rarely actually urgent or of import (new like on Instagram, everyone?). We even get fond to them, thank you to the dopamine release that comes from responding to the signal. Companies know this and they’ve worked
to develop the best ways to get your attending.
By succumbing to letters y’all’re actually property yourself captive to others’ motivations and ideas, rather than focusing on your own priorities.
Train yourself to focus
Now you’ve found a way to cleave out a few suspension-free hours for yourself, you lot may non however be able to stay in the groove the entire time. That’s totally fine. The earth we live in is
of things vying for attention, and all this overstimulation and ‘multitasking’ is why many of u.s. seem to accept lost the ability to focus.
It’s important to retrieve that focus is a skill developed over time, and similar any skill, it requires lots of practise. Especially if you’re new to this whole deep-focus thing, methods like the Pomodoro Technique® are fantastic for educational activity you how to focus.
The Pomodoro Technique® forces you to work on ane thing, and ane thing just, for 25 minutes at a time, with five minute breaks in between sessions. After 4 25 minute sessions of focus, y’all tin take a longer break of 15–xxx mins.
The great matter about this is that 25 minutes is totally outgoing. Information technology’due south much easier for you to ignore the siren calls of your phone notifications for 25 minutes than it is for iii hours. The psychological barrier to starting a short block of work is much lower than it is for a longer one.
🍅Here’south how to Pomodoro®🍅
- Write a listing of everything y’all need to exercise, in bite sized, actionable tasks. (Check out my guide to writing effective tasks for ideas on how to do this really, really well!) Tip: Zenkit is a bang-up place to track all this 😉
- Set up a timer for 25 minutes.
- Piece of work on the task until the timer rings, and so put a checkmark next to your job.
- Take a five minute break. Walk around, grab a coffee, exercise some stretches. Existence active helps!
- Echo! Proceed adding checkmarks to your listing until yous’ve got four down, then take a longer break. 30 minutes is practiced.
A general tip for your brusque breaks: If you can, avoid checking your e-mail or messages or instagram, or whatever it is. Eventually you’ll train yourself not to need that instant gratification and you’ll exist able to end picking upwards your phone every 5 seconds.
Once you lot’ve learned to focus for these short bursts, you may observe that you want to continue going, you’ve found your flow and the constant breaks are becoming a distraction in and of themselves. If so, healthy! Looks like you lot don’t need Pomodoro® anymore (but it’s always there for you if y’all’re having a hard time getting into the groove!).
Incorporating some kind of mindfulness exercise into your daily routine, whether it be meditation, journaling, or going out for a run and simply appreciating nature, helps you lot notice focus on your own terms, away from work and the pressure of success. Making these practices a part of your routine means you’re consistently reinforcing your ability to concentrate on a single task and filter out distractions (whether they’re concrete or emotional).
Things like meditation also assistance you to become more enlightened of yourself and your environs, which leads nicely on to the next tip…
Despite all our distraction-avoiding and newfound ability to focus, information technology’due south inevitable that distractions will still show upward. The solution? Be aware of what’s happening when you lot become downward to piece of work. Notice when you commencement to lose focus or go distracted. Acknowledge it, and so redirect your focus to the task at hand.
An HBR article by Paul Hammerness and Margaret Moore outlines an piece of cake ‘ABC’ method to help you hit the brakes on distraction: Get
Aware of your options: Give in to the distraction, or continue working.
Breathe securely, and consider the options. And so
Choose whether to go distracted or move forward with your job. Making this choice tin can help reinforce the priority you set for yourself.
Another way to approach this comes from the trusty old Pomodoro Technique®. One of the rules of the technique is that if something comes up — y’all recollect something yous need to get washed, or someone pops in and asks you to do something — write it downwardly as a job on a bit of paper nearby, then get right back to work. Writing the task downwards ways y’all become information technology out of your head right abroad, and it’s not little away at the back of your heed while you’re trying to focus.
Phew! That’s all folks! Let me know in the comments beneath how your time blocking is going! Do you have some tricks upwards your sleeve that aid you focus?
Siobhan and the Zenkit Team
Annotation: Pomodoro Technique® and Pomodoro® are registered trademarks of Francesco Cirillo.