Do you struggle with focus?
No matter who you are or what you do, there will be times when you will struggle to focus.
Times when no matter how hard you try you just can’t keep your butt on the chair or your head in the game.What to do about it will sometimes depend on where the distraction is coming from and in a broad sense, that is one of two places.
Distractions either come from our external environment, interruptions, social media, anything going on around you or they come from our internal environment, our thoughts, our beliefs and our emotions.
While you might sometimes think the external distractions are outside of your control, the truth is you have quite a bit influence over them. We can switch off notifications, remove ourselves form a noisy environment or ask people not to disturb us while we are working. While not all solutions will work 100% of the time, when you take action you can usually change the situation for the better.
The internal distractions are a little tricker to control. Our repetitive negative thoughts, our negative beliefs about ourselves or that gnawing feeling that we shouldn’t have said something, these distractions can be a real bitch and can drain our energy and focus.
While some of the emotional stuff will need guidance and assistance to work through, we can tame our thoughts with a practise like meditation, mindfulness or any practise that helps our mind to be present, in the moment. Walking in nature or taking part in sport are all positive activities to help you to quieten the mind and bring it back to the job you should be focused on.
Another tool that has helped me to focus is the Pomodoro Technique, a simple method for focusing the mind for short periods of time.
The Pomodoro Technique has been an essential method for me to help me to focus especially when I am writing or working on an intense project.
Firstly what is it?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique created by Francesco Girillo in the late 1980s. It is a simple and very effective way to improve your productivity. The name Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, taking its name from the tomato kitchen timer used to track the time intervals.
The basics of the technique are very simple.
Choose a task you would like to get done
The task can be big or small, a daily tasks or a bigger goal. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it is something that you want to get done.
Set the Pomodoro Timer
The Pomodoro technique recommends sticking with a task for 25 minutes. Don’t take a break or allow yourself to get distracted during the time period.
Work on the task until the timer rings
Stay with the task for the full 25 minutes, anything you want to do has to wait until break time. If a thought comes into your head reminding you of something you need to do, capture it on paper and keep going until the timer rings.
Take a short Break
The break is vital. Breathe, stretch, go to the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee, some water or both. Use the break to refresh your mind and get ready for another Pomodoro.
Record your Pomodoros
Record how much work you get done in the 25 minutes so when I write, I found I could write an average of 400 to 500 words in the 25 minutes. This helps to manage your time and to to be able to estimate how long tasks take.
My new Luxafor Pomodoro Timer
I recently came across Luxafor, a company that produce productivity gadgets to help beat distractions and interruptions, both in the office and working from home. While I have used Pomodoro apps before this is the first time I have used a physical timer and I like it. Their Pomodoro timer has an LED display with the time periods, 25 mins, 5 mins, this can be changed but I found the 25 minutes works well. You simply tap on the top to start and stop the timer. You can purchase the timer here with a 15% discount with the promo code CIARA15
Luxafor also do a range of Productivity Gadgets designed to eliminate distractions in both an Office or work-from-home environment. The gadgets include Flags to eliminate. interruptions and availability indicators for meeting rooms etc.
I have also started to use the Luxafor Flag, when I am on a call or working on something and don’t want to be disturbed I turn on the flag.
Then when someone comes looking to find out what time is dinner, I don’t have to wave them away or tell them I’m busy, they see the light on and come back later.
You can also use Zapier to connect Luxafor with Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Zoho, Slack and over 1’500 other apps to receive personalised and unique notifications on your own terms.
But whether you use a gadget or start to train your brain to conform, just remember that it is all within your control. There are solutions and the solutions will work as long as you have the intention to make it better.
Lack of focus is not a fait accompli. It is redeemable.