This post was originally published June 2015 and was updated in 2019 and republished.
Do you have a hard time focusing at work? You’re not alone.
Women constantly tell me how they have a hard time focusing at work, and I can see why! We have so many pressures, wear so many hats and want to do a good job.
However, with our brains full of "to do" lists—not just ours, but our spouse’s, kids’ and maybe even friends—it’s not surprising that even with a task as simple as reading, our minds wander.
According to Canadian researcher Jonathan Schooler, we get distracted from a task at hand anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the time (source: The Associated Press).
On top of that, we pride ourselves on our multitasking skills. Not good—it turns out that multitasking actually kills our ability to focus and get things done. True focus can only be achieved by concentrating on one task at a time.
What I want to share with you is one of the most valuable time management skills you can learn. It will help you get more done in a shorter amount of time, without getting distracted!
Then let's get to it!
My time-saving tip is the Pomodoro Technique. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato and refers to the timer that is shaped like a tomato. Why? Because this technique involves using a timer to break down your workload into 25-minute intervals, separated by 5-10 minutes breaks.
Choose a task that can feasibly be achieved in 25 minutes. For example:
Of course, you don’t have to use a Pomodoro timer, you can use a stopwatch or your phone, anything with an alarm to signal the end of the time.
The premise of the Pomodoro method is that you commit to completing the task within the 25-minute timeframe. When you first start practicing this time management skill, your mind will start to wander. Every time this happens, place a checkmark on a piece of paper, and go back to the task at hand. Do not satisfy your wandering mind! Each and every time you lose focus, put a check mark. As you practice this technique more and more, eventually you will have no checkmarks!
After 25-minutes, the task will be complete, so take a mandatory 5 minute break.
Do this three times in a row for a total of 90-minutes, after which you take a 10-minute break.
Get up, walk around, get a drink, use the washroom - whatever you do, leave your desk, stretch your legs, and satisfy your wandering mind.
I promise that with this laser focus, you will be surprised how much more you can get done in 25-minutes.
The Pomodoro method has some key advantages:
If you divide your entire 8-hour day using the Pomodoro technique, you will complete 14 tasks in a day (assuming you want to take a lunch break). Imagine how much you could get done!!
I truly believe that this is one of the most valuable time management skills as it will focus your time and enable you to get more done in less time, and isn’t that what all busy women want?
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Try these techniques today and finish the week with your tasks checked off!
P.S. Need some clarity even knowing what to focus on or a structure for your week? This is often what I do with my clients. Connect with me or email me so we can focus on you! email@example.com
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