Written by: Claire Elmes, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
How many of us multi-task? Or start some multitasking only to get distracted by an email, another task, a colleague, client calling? With so many distractions, high expectations and the intense balancing acts going on in modern life, it is becoming increasingly impossible to complete everything on our never ending ‘to-do lists.’ Society is very driven by ‘notification led tasks,’ whilst trying to complete a project/ task an email comes in which leads work into a different direction and before you know it the day has disappeared.
Doing multiple things at once often means we are not actually paying full attention to anything. This frantic, disorderly approach ends up impeding people’s productivity as they ‘half’ do lots of tasks without completing anything. Ultimately acting in this way can negatively impact wellbeing as this is not sustainable, and can lead to high levels of stress and burn-out. Lack of structure is not kind on the mind.
So how can we create a focused mindset? Structure! When we start to create some structure and become more targeted with our focus we can go from frantic and half done to calm and complete!
Whether you are a leader, employee, or self-employed it’s a good idea to keep up to date with innovative ways to get a productivity boost. Stepping away for focused work allows productivity to flow in a much more constructive way.
There are many ways to create structure into our working week. Do you know what you spend your time doing?
First, I recommend looking at how you spend your time and you can work out where you are getting distracted. When you know what is draining your time (I can make a good guess emails and social media scrolling are up there!)
You need a process of how to help you focus.
I give you the answer: ‘The Pomodoro Technique’.
The pomodoro technique is a method of working that empowers people to take control of their own time. It involves setting a timer and working on a single task continuously for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute rest period.
The 5-minute rest time can be used to re-charge, stretch legs, make a cup of tea, use the bathroom, etc. Then, re-set the 25-minutes on the timer and return to work.
You can time block several together before taking a longer break or just do one or two. A good recommendation would be to link 2-4 Pomodoro’s and then have a longer break. This allows for undertaking 1-2 hours of pure productivity. This works best when there are no distractions such as checking emails/ doing housework/ checking social media/general distraction tasks. (This is the tough part!). It sounds strange and feels hard at first but it is actually quite freeing.
So how exactly can implementing the pomodoro technique help with keeping up productivity?
1. Stay focused on a single task
By focusing on one task per 25-minute time block (you can take multiple blocks for one task), individuals can approach their work with more mental clarity and less distraction, streamlining tasks and creating a more focused mindset.
2. Improves planning work weeks
By organising tasks into Pomodoro’s (25-minute time blocks), it’s easier for people to conceptualise how long tasks will take (especially repetitive tasks) and allows to organise better based on priority and timeliness of the tasks.
3. Sharpen concentration
Using these techniques can help focus on one task at a time. Because of the set time period and sense of urgency, minds will be less likely to wonder as you become laser-focused on completing or progressing on the task (how many of us check our phones/ social media randomly through the day).
4. Done is better than perfect
A perfectionist mindset can impede progress being made at all and drain valuable time, hindering productivity. There will be time to refine things later on, but the pomodoro technique is all about getting tasks done. It doesn’t have to be perfect as further Pomodoro’s can be scheduled to edit and refine projects, which is much better for productivity that agonising over trying to make it ‘perfect’ from the outset.
There are many different ways to implement this: a timer on the phone, buzzer, or an app. If using an app consider ‘Focus To-Do’ (there are lots of apps out there) which even has project sections to create a task and focus on each task like a to-do list. It will automatically work out how long each task has taken, which can also be useful in structuring future time management of tasks.
I’d love to know how this technique works for you. Check out my website for more information on how to use this technique here.
Claire Elmes, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Claire Elmes is the founder of Inspire You and is passionate about work-life balance. Having experienced burnout, Claire is dedicated to empowering people to work through stress and anxiety, traumatic life events, shift mindset, regulate emotions, gain clarity, and develop a stable routine. Through coaching and therapeutic techniques, Claire helps people tap into their potential and transform their lives for the better. Since Covid 19, Claire has recognized many companies are changing how they work and is supporting them to develop innovative well-being strategies to prevent staff burnout and help teams thrive, not survive. Claire provides companies with regular well-being support on a wide variety of topics such as: "How to avoid burnout", "How to make time in your week for what matters", "How to stop overthinking", "How to improve sleep", " How to manage imposter syndrome," "How to be the best version of you", to name just a few. Claire's mission is to empower the emotional well-being of staff and bring the fun back into work life.