The World's Best Productivity Aid… Focus

timer%20utilityI often get asked how I get so much done. Granted I got asked that more before I quit the day job. I have learned that one of the best ways to be productive is to focus. But I only have so much focus in me so the trick that I use involves a timer.
The Amateur Traveler podcast that I put out pretty much every Saturday morning takes hours of production. The problem with that schedule means is I am often working on it late into the night on Friday nights. If there is one night that I don’t particularly feel like working it would probably be Friday. Now the smart person would probably finish the production work on Thursday but this is not a post on how to be smart.
Most weeks I finish the show by bribing myself. I set a timer for 25 minutes. During that 25 minutes I focus only on the show. I don’t answer email. I don’t look at twitter, AIM, or Skype. I don’t listen to podcasts. I don’t check facebook. I don’t sit within the sound of a TV or a radio. Then when the timer goes off I set it again for 5 minutes. During that 5 minutes I play. My game of choice is Age of Mythology. I don’t play it online where I could be caught up in something that would be hard to stop, because after 5 minutes the process repeats. 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of play.
Sometimes I get sucked into more than 5 minutes of play but more often I get sucked into more than 25 minutes of work. In theory, I could finish faster if I did not take time out for a break every 25 minutes, but what I have found is that without that break I would find excuses to do something else. My mind wants to wander. During that 5 minutes I might instead catch up on twitter or facebook. I probably listen to a podcast while I play. I might check my email, AIM or Skype, but then it’s back to work.
So my suggestion is to find time to focus… but also find time to play.

Author: chris2x

One man's view of life in Silicon Valley from Chris Christensen - a podcaster, blogger, programmer, entrepreneur

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