The biggest hurdle for focus and productivity is the distractions and lack of Intense focus.
Often people that struggle with time management are those who lack the ability to put into focus without distractions.
Cal Newport explained a concept in his book Deep Work.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship.
So if we want to improve focus and productivity, all we need to do is aim for Deep work.
And the key to deep work is elimiate distractions and intense focus on a small interval. Take a break and resume the intense focus. Keep repeating this untill you lose the ability to put intense focus or you are done with your activities for the day.
To make this process easier, I have been following a set of principles which includes Pomodoro timer and clarity on your next actions.
There are 3 components to this kind of Deep work.
- Start your day with figuring out the tasks you'll be doing. These are the high-level tasks and each of it would take less than 2 hours to complete.
- Now break down you tasks into sub-tasks. Each of the task should be broken down to 10-15 mins sub-tasks.
- Start the Pomodoro Timer and review which of the sub-tasks you'll be working on.
Few bottlenecks that will break the whole process:
- Don't miss your breaks. When the timer to take a break rings, you must leave your screen and take the break. Drink water or go for a small walk in the house.
- Come back to work after the break ends. If you miss only 1 Pomodoro, your brain will lose the importance and the distractions would again start weighing you down.
- Try to complete the whole Pomodoro sessions of 2 hours. I have personally experienced this. I am more productive when I aim to remain completely focused for the whole 2 hours session i.e. don't stop mid-way through the complete Pomodoro session.
The key to focus and intense productivity is the Deep Work. To make Deep work easier, I use a Pomodoro timer with the list of tasks broken down to sub-tasks. Before I start on a Pomodoro, I review what subtasks am I aiming for this Pomodoro. Repeat 2-3 times with whole Pomodoro sessions.