How to concentrate and focus on your work

Time is very democratic resource: 24 hours a day for everyone.
Time is very democratic resource: 24 hours a day for everyone.

Do you face a challenge concentrating and focusing on your work? Do you get distracted by phone calls, emails, text messages and people knocking on your door?

I assume we all face these challenges. Books have been written about how to effectively deal with them. Still we struggle to stay focused and concentrated.

When I started my own business 10 years ago I no longer had to answer to anybody. While that was a blessing in itself it also turned out to represent some genuine challenges. Getting business for my new venture was never the challenge, but getting things done effectively certainly was.

Despite having all kinds of project and time management tools available there was one last thing that they could not fix: Focus and concentration.

I don’t know how I found it, but one day I read about the Pomodoro technique on the Internet.

The technique is dead simple.

Pomodoro1You pick a task that you want to accomplish. You then take a simple kitchen timer. You set it to 25 minutes. In the following 25 minutes you only work on that task. You don’t answer the phone, you don’t check your emails, you ignore incoming chat messages, you don’t check the number of likes on your recent Facebook update and you tell people knocking on your door that you’ll get back to them later. Come rain, come shine – you just focus on the task.

When the 25 minutes are up, then you break off, stretch your legs, dance to some music, brew a cup of tea or whatever you can accomplish in 5-10 minutes. Then you start another 25 minutes Pomodoro. You should not use the break for work. Recreation only!

It took me a while to learn how to concentrate uninterrupted for 25 minutes, but now the ticking of the clock keeps me focused and productive.

If you have challenges with focusing and like the idea of the Pomodoro technique, then there are plenty of tutorials on the Internet and also a couple of small books on the subject. The Pomodoro Technique Illustrated by Staffan Nöteberg is a great introduction.

BTW: I have purchased the red pomodoro timer and take it with me wherever I go. It helps me focus and I enjoy when it is ticking along and I am being very, very productive.

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