Staying Focused—Pomodoro Technique
Episode #5 of the course How to be more productive by Dan Silvestre
You are now in possession of the most effective to-do list for your work. Yesterday, you wrote down the six most important tasks for today. And you also know NOT to multitask. You should start by doing your first task, and you are not to move on until you finished it. But you need to stay focused for that. Today, we’ll talk about doing the work without interruptions.
Why Staying Focused Is Important
We know our attention span is decreasing. Microsoft conducted a study and the findings are staggering: In 2000, the average person could focus on one task without being distracted for twelve seconds. In 2013, that number has decreased to eight seconds. A goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds…
Another problem in our work culture is the fact that we are constantly being interrupted. Seems like every minute, there is a new notification on our phone or a colleague who needs us for “just five minutes.” Interruptions are expensive too. They cost the U.S. economy $588 billion a year, according to a Basex study.
In addition to dollar damages, you need to factor the costs of task switching. In a study from the University of California Irvine, researchers shadowed workers on the job, studying their productivity. Here is what they found:
“You have to completely shift your thinking, it takes you a while to get into it and it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were … We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news—it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”
As a result of all these factors, when we look back in our week and try to calculate productivity, we can’t help but wonder: “What did I really accomplish this week?”
How do we fix our attention span and focus on the work that matters?
There is a simple fail-proof productivity hack you can apply today to have big chunks of deep work. The Pomodoro productivity technique is one of the simplest (yet most effective) productivity systems. The basic rule is to work in 25-minute increments. Here‘s the step-by-step:
1. First, choose one task and one task ONLY.
2. Now, set a timer for 25 minutes. I use this app.
3. Work on that task until the timer rings and then put a checkmark on a tracker.
4. Time to relax: Take a five-minute break.
5. Repeat one to four more times, followed by a 15-minute break.
I know, 25 minutes doesn‘t sound a lot. However, that’s 25 minutes of completely uninterrupted deep work.
The term “deep work,” coined by Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, refers to “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limits.”
And that’s exactly what this simple hack brings you. I use it every single day, normally four cycles in the morning and four in the afternoon. My quantity AND quality of work skyrocketed! Do it every day from now on so you can develop the habit of working with the Pomodoro Productivity. The results will amaze you.
It’s very easy to start a task you want to do. But what about those dreadful tasks you have absolutely no motivation to do? The ones you procrastinate far too long over and never get around to doing?
That’s the subject of tomorrow’s lesson: a simple productivity hack you can apply to stop procrastination and start getting things done instead.
To a Productive Day!
Create Your Productivity Calculator (+ My Top 3 Hacks)
Forget Goals, Focus on Systems Instead
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
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