As the flip side to my introspection yesterday on distraction, today I’m looking at focus. It’s appropriate because I’m starting Week 1 of my life pivot on Monday and one of my assignments for this week is working on my focus. How better to start the week than with focus? I can’t think of anything that would be more helpful in accomplishing my goals for the week in the ten week course of instruction/work that I’ve set up.
I am taking the approach that my main problem with focus is that my days have been lacking structure because the events/issues in my life have been hyper fluid. Things are finally settling down enough that structuring my day is feasible. So, I am going to establish more structure to my days to enable me to focus better.
The first part of the structure that I am creating is my Ten Week Course. I’ll talk a little about that tomorrow, which will be the first official day of that course. I’ll also talk a little about how that course is going to fit into the larger “life pivot” that I’ve been mentioning.
The second part of the structure will be to build breaks into my day. If I don’t have a built in break mechanism, there are two fundamental problems I run into. The first is that I take random breaks as my mind drifts into other areas. I don’t waste a lot of time by taking too many breaks, but taking breaks randomly throughout the day is a problem from a distraction standpoint. Since I’m working on reducing distractions this week and increasing focus, that needs to be fixed. The second problem is that sometimes I get a little too tied into what I’m doing. I’m hoping that structuring in some breaks will allow me to turbocharge my work while I’m doing it and quickly eliminate some items that are niggling at the edges of my consciousness at predetermined break times. That way things like email or twitter won’t eat away at my focus while I am supposed to be working on something else.
I’ve decided to give the Pomodoro Technique a try because it seems like the best match for the way that I work. The gist of this technique is that you work for 25 minutes and then take a 3-5 minute break. Each of these cycles is called a “pomodori.” Every fourth pomodori, you take a 15-30 minute break. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can download “The Pomodoro Technique” by Francesco Cirillo for free under a Creative Commons license. I’m going to read the book during my breaks to try to get a little more insight into it as well.
For the first week, I’m not sure how my breaks are going to go or how well the technique will even work, but that’s part of the learning process. At the end of the week, I will at least understand what is affecting my ability to focus and start to work on tweaking my systems and my thought processes to enhance it in the following weeks.