To focus or not to focus, that is the productivity trick 🧘

Find out the ultimate productivity trick for remote workers - to focus or not to focus?

Early this week, when I started a discussion to see if people find productivity timers helpful, I didn't find anyone strongly advocate their use. Even I've never been a big fan of productivity techniques.

But I've found some parts to be appealing & useful. It's particularly helped to know why certain things work well for me so that I can consciously do those things.

So I am going to share very specific points I've learnt & found useful. If you have something more to add or if you disagree, pour in your thoughts below.

Hyperfocus

Hyperfocus is when you have deep & intense concentration on only one topic or task. We typically want to be in a hyperfocus state while doing the most critical tasks in a day.

As you would already know, it is tough to achieve this given the numerous distractions & the natural tendency of our brain to wander. So it helps to -

1. Have realistic # of times you want to achieve hyperfocus in a day, say 2-3 bouts

2. Get rid of all distractions when you want to focus

3. Take breaks

Pomodoro

Work for 25 mins, then break for 5 mins. Each 25-min work period is called a 'pomodoro'. After 4 'pomodoros' (100 mins of work, 15 mins of break), take a 15-20 min break.

Sounds easy? Only that it isn't so practical.

Stopping after 25 mins especially when you're in a hyperfocus state (say you're in the middle of writing a blog or fixing a bug) is going to be tough and well, unproductive. This is also why a lot of people quit using these timers - Alda for testimony 😎

So there are 2 workarounds here -

1. Figure the duration of work period that works for you & configure it. Feel free to vary it even daily.

2. Use pomodoro for tasks that aren't variable or don't need you to have extreme focus e.g. clearing your inbox, documentation etc.

Scatterfocus

Ever wondered why you sometimes get the best ideas when you're the most distracted? Say while taking a shower or doing the most mundane tasks e.g. washing dishes.

It isn't coincidence but just the way our mind works. Our brain's natural tendency is to wander or get distracted and this happens strongly when you're doing nothing or something boring. The good news is that this period of distraction helps you get recharged & be creative.

So you can consciously get distracted to be creative by -

1. Letting your mind roam freely & grasping whatever useful comes up (Capture mode)

2. Holding a problem loosely & thinking freely around it (Problem crunching mode)

3. Engaging in a simple, mundane task & get ideas as they come (Habitual mode)