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! firstname.lastname@example.org
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I write this as I miraculously got both kids to nap at the same time (Mom's get this and will cheer!). I now have time to write this blog… the clarity of what to say is pressured by a child who could awaken at any moment.
So what do I do with time to spare?
Haha! Time to spare? I have a huge list of to do’s and project after project along with two businesses to run. Plus I am running out the door as soon as my husband comes in to lead Dynamic Women™ in Action!
So it brings me to my topic: How do busy parents, or even people, get things done? How are they super productive? How do they run one or two businesses and still make family time?
The answer is simple. We work when we can.
We work when we can’t sleep at midnight. We work in the car waiting for kids to come out of school. We work when we should be watching soccer practice. We work when our kids nap. We work whenever there is a pocket of time that can be used productively. We try NOT to work on family time, but sometimes it’s inevitable.
I’m sure you have figured a lot of this out already, but my goal is not to earn authorship awards for AMAZING new ideas, but to make them more accessible, digestible and unforgettable. Working when you can is one of the most effective time-management skills you can have. It’s using every last second of time you have available in the day for getting things done, and not wasting a moment.
Let me break this down:
So which of the six tactics for effective time-management did I use today? The car as we went to Costco, the pockets while the kids finished their lunch, the double tasking with the laundry and waiting for my child to go to sleep, and double duty because this blog becomes my social media posts.
Let me know which of these time-management skills you will put into play and which ones you already do. Have another one? Tell me by commenting below and I'll add it to my list!
I hope you can find more opportunities to work when you can, so you can have time for all of your priorities, and, family time.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me, I love connecting with my readers!
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