Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Quick and Dirty Guide - Staying Focused

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Here I am, sitting at a coffee shop trying to write this post.
I don't understand how people do this! Maybe they go to coffee shops where they don't know anyone, in bigger towns where it's easier to be anonymous. I should probably go home, but I am attempting to not be a shut in.

The problem is that I love overhearing other people's conversations, opening new tabs, and in general just getting distracted. Oh, I should order a bagel.

Procrastinating doesn't always mean legitimately not wanting to do something, or not knowing how to start. Sometimes, it's just distraction and ideas coming in at the same time you'd like to be writing your paper, answering an e-mail, or actually getting work done while at work. Without a clear plan or defense against procrastination, it's really easy to find yourself at the end of the day with a sense of failure and bewilderment.

So, I'm going to attempt to do write this blog post for just ten minutes. Every time I get distracted or think of something I want to look up I'm going to redirect my attention back to this topic.

This technique is generally called the '(10+2) * 5' method and has been around for as long as offices have been a thing. It's a form of Timeboxing which I hear is pretty useful.

The first step in the (10+2) * 5 Method is lining out the tasks you want to get accomplished and then doing them one 10 minute slot at a time, pausing for 2 minutes in between, until the task is completed.

I like this. It at least gets me moving on something because really, keeping my focus that long isn't hard. I've got a clear goal - write this post, a clear beginning -now, and a clear ending- ten minutes from now, and! A nice reward at the end of all this effort I've put in- a two minute break.

Another technique is simply choosing one task to complete and eliminating other distractions: turn off your phone, turn off your e-mail and close all those tabs.

Over and over it's been shown that multitasking has a wide variety of negative effects on the brain and just taking a second to focus completely on one task at a time actually increases productivity over all. 

It's not easy to do!! Multitasking is something that we're all very adept at, but by no means does us any good in the long run. Switching off the instinct to do more than one thing at a time takes will power and is not intuitive.


The number of times I've had to redirect my attention back to this post is staggering. About once every 2.5 minutes. Mostly it's because of the other conversations going on, so if anything I've learned that I can get things done, but I need to be in a place that is conducive to that. Clearly though, the fact that I've actually written this instead of deciding to do it later and get on Reddit means that it's working!

Let me know if there's a technique or special piece of wisdom you've come across for keeping your attention focused!


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