The Power of Focus (and time management:)

29 replies
As you may be aware, we IM'ers tend to get a little distracted sometimes. But there is this incredible power that comes with focus. I'll give you an example: recently, one of our developers started a side project. He produced an amazing image grid tool that picks up images from a folder and displays them in a grid. it probably took him 15 hours to throw the PHP/jQuery together, but because he was busy with other work he spread that out over 3 months. He could have completed it in 2 days if he'd focused!

This leads us to an obvious question: how do we focus when distraction is so readily available? We like to use the Pomodoro Technique (don't worry, that's not an affiliate link). Now you can download the book for free (or buy the paperback if you're so inclined), but here is the basic idea behind it. To start you'll need a pomodoro timer, or any timer that can measure at least a 5 minute accuracy up to 30 minutes or so.

1. Pick a task. Let's say you're building a WordPress site, and your next task is to write a blog entry - that is your task!
2. Set the timer to 25 minutes.
3. Work on the task, ignoring any distraction (incoming emails, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, whatever) until the timer rings.
4. Mark an X on piece of paper to show that you've completed that pomodoro.
5. Take a 5 minute break (use the timer to make sure you don't break for longer).
6. After you've completed four pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-20 minutes (again, use the timer).

The act of setting the timer will allow you to show determination and focus on the task at hand. The ringing of the pomodoro announces a break, and lets you build a mental workflow. Finally, the act of ticking it off on the paper lets you feel the sense of accomplishment as you complete things.

Hopefully this will benefit you, fellow Warriors, as it has benefited us!
#focus #management #power #time
  • Profile picture of the author Evocess
    Great!
    Actually one of our teammate do the pomodoro technique and he even explained how it works. He then told the whole team to apply/use the timer technique of pomodoro.

    I'm excited to try the said technique. I know I can have good benefit from it
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  • Profile picture of the author Elizabeth Fee
    Putting a timed limit on a set goal is an excellent way of helping you focus better. It is amazing how much time can be wasted when you don't give yourself a deadline for your set goals. This technique (although I do my own variation of this) has ultimately allowed me to focus more on my kids when I'm on my work "breaks"... because now I am releasing all guilt of not doing more work when I am with them... and on the flip side... I am releasing all guilt of not focusing on my kids when I have that "set" time to focus on work.
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    Elizabeth Fee
    The Niche Mom - My personal blog to inspire and guide you towards earning an income online.

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  • Profile picture of the author Kragsig
    Time management is so important when you take action. You need to schedule everything to maximize the effects.

    This is one of the areas, where I constantly tries to improve myself. In everyday life with 9 hours of work, grocery to be bought, food to be made etc. you really need to plan your time.

    Don't waste your time every day by checking all emails, clicking "like" on Facebook and commenting irrelevant things..

    Make some milestones during your project - make some small tasks you know you can solve each day and you will reach your goal faster than you think
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  • Profile picture of the author free4an
    This is so true. I will try this. lately, I started getting aware of the fact that most of my time has been spent checking emails, browsing the warrior forum, and no productive tasks at all. I will try this technique.
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  • Profile picture of the author angelinebobby
    Focus is very important to everyone to get success.
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  • Profile picture of the author TopicSpan
    I'm really glad this post has been helpful and beneficial to everyone The pomodoro technique is really handy, too, for Internet marketers that have limited time (eg. they have a day job).
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  • Profile picture of the author LuceMk
    interesting story,
    the focus is indeed a difficult job if we did not run in earnest.
    thanks for sharing
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  • Profile picture of the author sharifali
    Thanks for sharing!
    Yeah, its so important to stay focused. Scattered mind gets scattered results
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Pollard
    Great post. I've been pretty scattered myself and I'm bringing some stuff together
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  • Profile picture of the author 50cali8er
    exactly. I am sure this tehnique helps to prevent information overload too. you know you are researching a subject but there are so many sources you can't focus. but now taking one source, putting time limit on it.. might work some wonders
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    • Profile picture of the author TopicSpan
      Originally Posted by 50cali8er View Post

      exactly. I am sure this tehnique helps to prevent information overload too. you know you are researching a subject but there are so many sources you can't focus. but now taking one source, putting time limit on it.. might work some wonders
      That's also a very valid point - information overload to the point of distraction! I've had a scenario where I'm researching a point to help someone on a forum, and in the process I get distracted with a blog article linked in the sidebar of the blog article I'm currently reading. Two hours later I eventually finish replying, only to find that the original forum post has been locked because the guy found the answer. Faaaaail!
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  • Profile picture of the author ownergolan
    Thnx for the information!
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    "Aiyyo I'm gonna be on ti-dop, that's all my eyes can see..
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  • Profile picture of the author infinityplr
    Thanks for this. I really appreciate the thread since this has been my problem ever since. It is hard to focus at one task when you know you have a lot to do. I get overwhelmed and lose my balance. Plus I kinda suck at time management too.

    thanks for these tips! thumbs up!
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  • Profile picture of the author KickAss Marketing
    Time management is really is really one of the best way to to achieve your goal or to finish a task...Thank you for reminding us about it..
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  • Profile picture of the author GSX
    This is excellent! Never heard of the pomodoro but definitely going to check it out, I'm always looking for more ways to stay focused while working from home.
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    • Profile picture of the author TopicSpan
      Originally Posted by GSX View Post

      This is excellent! Never heard of the pomodoro but definitely going to check it out, I'm always looking for more ways to stay focused while working from home.
      Well worth it - especially if you're working from home. All of our devs are allowed to work from home 2 days a week, and they all use the Pomodoro Technique when they're at home. It's the only way to stay focused and not get distracted if you're not massively self-disciplined.
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  • Profile picture of the author hyonglin
    Thanks for sharing!
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  • Profile picture of the author stopper
    Actually this interests me more than you think I heard about something similar. I just did not know it was the pomodoro technique
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael hetzz
    good post
    thanks for sharing
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  • Profile picture of the author steveproxy
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    • Profile picture of the author TopicSpan
      Originally Posted by steveproxy View Post

      I face lots of interruptions while working , I badly need some changes regarding my time management.
      Steve - what are the interruptions? Are they self-made, like "oh look here's an interesting article"? Or is it your phone ringing and you "have" to take the call? Some interruptions are out of our control, but many we can influence and control but we are unwilling to do so.
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      • Profile picture of the author Geordie John
        One addition to using this approach is that being focused isn't enough - you need to prioritize the tasks that you set yourself as much as you need to focus on getting them done.

        You can be working hard, staying focused, getting tasks done on time, but if you aren't doing the tasks that move your business/work forward the time was effectively wasted.
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        • Profile picture of the author TopicSpan
          Originally Posted by Geordie John View Post

          One addition to using this approach is that being focused isn't enough - you need to prioritize the tasks that you set yourself as much as you need to focus on getting them done.

          You can be working hard, staying focused, getting tasks done on time, but if you aren't doing the tasks that move your business/work forward the time was effectively wasted.
          That is an excellent point - task selection and prioritisation is a discussion on its own, and one that I intend to write about soon
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          • Profile picture of the author Mike Roncone
            This actually seems like it would be really, really useful.

            I'm strangely intrigued, even though I do pretty well at managing myself and my focus already.

            Thanks for the tip,
            -Mike Roncone
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            Founder & Web Strategist at Grae Web Strategies

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  • Profile picture of the author AlyseS
    I use a software called The Focus Master. It's currently being sold on Clickbank as The Action Machine. You can get it free if you google "the focus master" and opt in (not my site). The opt in is definitely worth it though.

    It allows you to set up series of custom timers, save timers for tasks you do often, make notes, save series of timers for projects or entire days that have multiple tasks. For instance, I have a series of timers called "build a site" and all the basic tasks to complete a site are saved there. Then I basically try to beat the clock on every task.

    It tracks your progress on projects. It's really customizable. Just don't waste too much time setting up those timers
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  • Profile picture of the author NezNezAt5
    I should have read this thread earlier!!

    I have been handling a few task on my plate and instead of focusing on completing 1 at a time, I tried to do all of them, but in a spread out manner eg, recently one of my task is to setup my blog. It took me almost a month to get it well setup, when I believe it will take lesser time if I really focus on it.

    It took me a while to figure out that focusing on completing one task before the next one is a better approach than having to do all the task, but they took longer time to complete.

    Thanks for sharing.
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    • Profile picture of the author TopicSpan
      Originally Posted by NezNezAt5 View Post

      I should have read this thread earlier!!

      I have been handling a few task on my plate and instead of focusing on completing 1 at a time, I tried to do all of them, but in a spread out manner eg, recently one of my task is to setup my blog. It took me almost a month to get it well setup, when I believe it will take lesser time if I really focus on it.

      It took me a while to figure out that focusing on completing one task before the next one is a better approach than having to do all the task, but they took longer time to complete.

      Thanks for sharing.
      Yep - been there One of our senior devs had a similar time management issue. He would work on three tasks at once, and take a week to complete them. When he switched to working on one to completion, he finished three tasks in three days!
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  • Profile picture of the author mediagerms
    In order to be really successful, you may have to have to whittle down and sharpen your focus so you can give more effort to fewer things.
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  • Profile picture of the author kaanb1
    true it works,

    I use the Action Machine software (available for Macs and Pcs) for time boxing (aka pomodoro) and it helps alot. I think I bought it here as a WSO if I'm not mistaken...


    Kaan
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