The Best Way to Focus: Do Nothing

This is a quick blog post to talk about an important thing I recently learned when it comes to focusing on a task at hand.

Of course, I’ve been trying to improve my productivity more now that I am self-employed and have a higher need to focus on work. I’ve been trying to figure out the best path to productivity, specifically the best ways to focus on a single task over an extended (1+ hour) period of time. In the past, I’ve had trouble with this across the board. I often switch between tasks, which to be fair can help reduce burnout if the tasks are diversified and separate from one another. However, if I have too much spread and keep switching without being able to focus, I’ll never finish anything. So, I’ve been experimenting with different methods to find the best way to focus. I think I figured it out, at least for me: and it’s to do nothing.

Now, this sounds weird, but let me add more context. I use a Pomodoro timer to manage my productivity, which is very common and helpful. However, I still struggle sometimes to sit down and work the entire time for the Pomodoro. Sometimes I’ll get distracted and forget all about the Pomodoro timer, and when I come back, it’s already been five Pomodoros past, and I haven’t done any work for the entire day.

What I’ve decided to do is give myself two choices. I can either work during a Pomodoro or do nothing. I can walk around, think, stand, or sit, but I can’t go on Discord, Reddit, YouTube, or any other distractions. That way, if I’m burned out from a task, I can get up from my chair and start walking around. Sometimes, I go through an entire Pomodoro timer doing nothing but walking around my room.

Why is this better than getting distracted? First, when you’re doing nothing, there’s no time dilation, unlike when you’re going on Reddit or YouTube. This means that while I’m liking to miss one Pomodoro, I’m very unlikely to miss five of them. Second, doing nothing is very boring, even more boring than working. So, sometimes, I just find that if I’m left with these two choices, I’ll go back and be like, “Okay, I’m done walking around. I thought about what I need to think about. Let me just go back to this work.”

That’s how I’ve figured out the best focus for my Pomodoro timer. It’s definitely something that I think would be valuable for other people to try, too. I still haven’t perfected this formula, but I’m still working through it, and of course, there will be a blog post when I figure out the perfect distractionless work environment (if it even exists). But that’s where it stands right now, and I feel like that’s a strategy that’s worked really well for me.

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