I’ve struggled to focus on my work for the better part of my life. I have such diverse interests that I often find myself “chasing butterflies” instead of sticking to the task at hand once things prove to be difficult. For a while I thought about going to get myself tested for ADHD, but I figured that it would only bring me to the same conclusion – being a procrastinator in need of a solution.
A few days ago, I stumbled across a post while reading my favorite design site, Smashing Magazine, where they introduced a “time chunking” exercise called the Pomodoro Technique. The basic premise was that you list a set of tasks to do for the day, block off 25 minutes of uninterrupted focus time (a pomodoro) – jotting down the many distractions that pop up along the way – then allowing yourself a five minute break before getting back to work until you complete your task. My immediate thought was, “25 whole minutes! No interruptions?! Not a chance in hell that I’ll be able to do that!” But I decided to try out the technique anyway. To my surprise, its worked out pretty well thus far. The real secret to this technique is to actually acknowledge and keep track of the interruptions that pop up while trying to focus on my work and then go over them at the end of the day. I’ve come to find out that a lot of these distractions aren’t worthy of my time and that I’m actually able to hone in on my work once I get into the groove of things after the first few minutes.
As with all things that seek to break bad habits the hard part is being consistent. Anyone who’s been on a diet can attest to that. In the past, I’d get down on myself for not sticking to the program but I’m happy with the little bit of success I’ve found thus far. I can surely do better and I will do so but this technique is pretty promising.
If you find yourself in a similar predicament as the one I’m in, I definitely recommend that you take a look into the Pomodoro Technique – created by Francesco Cirillo. It may not work for you but its worth taking a shot.