Struggling to focus like me? Try the Pomodoro Technique

I’ve realised that I really struggle with focus. I’m constantly checking my email, checking my phone, scrolling through Instagram, Facebook & Twitter or jumping between random tabs in my browser.

I’ll start a task and while a file is busy downloading, or I’m waiting for something to load, I’ll quickly pick up my phone to check Twitter, or jump into my inbox to reply to a new email that has arrived.

My focus is a mess. And with no proper focus, comes no deep work, which means I’m not tackling the things that will help grow my business.

I came across Conor Neill’s blogpost where he talks about focus. This take away quote in his post is gold:

“If you don’t learn to focus, you will have a shallow and unrewarding life without any meaningful achievements.” ~ Derek Sivers

Conor recommends trying the Pomodoro technique, which he has used to great success. I must have me some of this Pomodoro!

How I use the Pomodoro Technique

You can watch the video below to see how a Pomodoro works, but it’s really simple. Set a timer for 25 minutes (a Pomodoro) and start a task. When the timer rings, get up (mid-sentence if you must) and take a 5 minute break.

If you get distracted by an email, reset the timer.
If you check your phone, reset the timer.
If the phone rings and you answer, reset the timer.
If your colleague taps you on the shoulder, reset the timer.
If you need to go to the bathroom, reset the timer.

I managed to complete 1 Pomodoro on day 1, 2 Pomodoro’s on day 2 and I’m writing this blog post on day 3 and if that timer rings it will be my first Pomodoro for the day (It’s currently 16:39). UPDATE: Yip, my first and only Pomodoro for the day!

What I also do is mark off the number of Pomodoro’s I’ve completed in my notebook, so that I have some sense of achievement when one is completed.

That * on day 1 and day 3 was an unfinished Pomodoro – I completed the task before the Pomodoro was up.

I at first thought that having to reset the timer each time I got distracted meant I’d feel like I was failing, but it has the exact opposite effect. It makes me even more determined to complete a Pomodoro, by focusing 100% at the task at hand and waiting for that buzzer. What it also showed me is how many damn distractions there are around me! My phone and the bad habit I have of constantly checking my email tab (I use Gmail in a pinned tab in Chrome) every few minutes.

A few Pomodoro tips from me

  1. DON’T USE YOUR PHONE AS A TIMER. You might have a notification come in while waiting for your phone to go off – and if that happens and you check it – you’ll have to reset the timer! Get a simple timer app for your Mac or PC. I’m using Tomato One.
  2. Turn your phone on silent, and leave it upside down or pop it into your bag so it’s a little further out the way so you aren’t tempted to check it.
  3. Pop on some headphones and listen to some music while tackling your task. If you’re not a music listening person, then just pop in headphones anyway and listen to nothing – they will definitely make any co-workers think twice about disturbing you.
  4. Keep track of the number of Pomodoro’s you complete in a notebook. The satisfaction of ticking them off really helps with the focus.
  5. Try and tackle tasks you know take longer than 25 minutes using the Pomodoro Technique and leave the little ones for later or even better, block them together. The little ones for me are a distraction to themselves, so I don’t try and Pomodoro them, I just get them out of the way.

Do you struggle with focus? What techniques or methods have you tried that have worked for you? I’d love to know!

 

Do the most important and most urgent. The rest can wait.

You know what is ok? It’s ok to not to be successful by the time you turn 30. It’s ok not to own the house you live in, not have any kids and not be married by 30. (Although I strongly suggest you get moving on the kids thing, but that’s for another article.) It’s ok to only start figuring out how to actually run your own business after turning 30. It’s ok to aim to be truly successful by the time you’re 40, heck, 50 even. These are the things that I’ve come to realise only after turning 30.

Click to continue reading my article over at Medium.com.

How to make an amazing Nespresso iced coffee at home

I’ve been trying to make a decent iced coffee at home with my Nespresso machine, but everytime I’ve tried, it just doesn’t have the right sweetness or coffee flavour that you find in coffee shops. So after some experimenting and asking a few coffee shops how they do it, I’ve managed to perfect a home-made Nespresso iced coffee.

You’ll need the following:

  • 2 x Nespresso pods
  • dash of milk
  • vanilla syrup
  • ice blocks
  • blender

Add to your blender, a double espresso and a dash of milk. The key here is don’t skimp on the double espresso by making a single lungo. There is a reason why iced coffees cost well over R20 in coffee shops. They are all using double espressos!

Add around 20 – 25 ice blocks, 2 or 3 tablespoons of the vanilla syrup and BLEND!

Pour into a glass, grab 2 straws and enjoy.

Just to recap

The key to the iced coffee is the double espresso and using syrup, not sugar, to sweeten. You can easily make sugar syrup at home if you can’t find any at your local supermarket. Here is a simple sugar syrup recipe and you can store the excess sugar syrup in your fridge for tomorrow’s Nespresso iced coffee.

Enjoy!

If you had R1 million land on your lap

What would you do if someone anonymous donor gave you R1 million to do with as you please? Would you quit your job, buy stuff, invest it? Would you retire at 25?

I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d take 6 months (ok, maybe 3 months) off and travel the world to experience as much as I possibly can in that time. I’d then come back to exactly where I live and carry on as if I haven’t been away for 1 day. Obviously the money left over will help whatever ideas I want to pursue, but the point of my post is I wouldn’t drastically change where I am and what I’m currently doing. I’m having that much fun.

You?

Samsung’s SOS function could save your life

I had quite an experience this past weekend that really made me sit up and start taking more notice of crime and safety.

My Fiancé was at the hairdresser on Saturday morning while I was playing a few rounds of golf on my Wii when I received an SMS from her that said the following: “I am in an emergency. Please help me.”. I started to panic thinking the worst – hijacking, kidnapping, etc. and immediately grabbed my car keys and sped out. Just before that I tried to call the cops – who were more than useless. The guy didn’t understand that my Fiancé was in an emergency and that could he get someone to go to the hairdresser in Gordon’s Bay immediately. I hung up the phone after the guy kept on repeating “Ehh, what must I do? What emergency?”.

I then jumped in my car and called her phone – which immediately answered. I could hear her in the car, with the radio on, but couldn’t hear anything else. I assumed she had sent the SMS somehow and was answering the phone in her pocket. This made me panic even more as I had no idea where she was heading – kidnapped and all. I was in a total panic as I was driving to get to the last place she was in Gordon’s Bay. Her sisters also got the SMS and were calling me, but I had no more information than they did.

3 minutes later I spotted her car at the robot, and there she was, looking all beautiful after being at the hairdresser. I stopped in the middle of the traffic and asked her where her phone was – and she opened her bag and showed it to me. It was a false alarm. I was totally relieved to see her safe and totally oblivious to what I had just gone through in the last 5 minutes.

Samsung’s SOS function

You see, she had activated a function on her phone that sends out an SMS to 4 people she specifies and the phone then goes into SOS mode and auto answers calls from only those people that got the SMS.

To activate it, you press the volume key 4 times while the phone is locked.

look-4-helpYes, the possibility of you actually being able to activate it in an emergency might be slim, but at least you have that possibility. Vodacom have a similar function called Look4Help that you can check out if you don’t own a Samsung.

Consider setting it up, it could just save your life.