GettingThingsDone Part# 1: Focus?

When I went to the gym this morning I met another Executive and friend of mine and we had a chat. He made a comment, saying “lots of people here are showing up several times per week, but never look really exhausted and sweating”. He pointed at some people on cross trainers, all with both hands on their smartphones.

Motivation is a difficult animal so to say and my point would be: not having a goal in the gym is acceptable, at least these people are doing something which is OK. Business of course is a different story.

What I find critical is that so many people seem to have real problems in focusing on just one specific task these days.

We have all been in situations in business environments when in meetings people have their smartphone on the on the table, checking “news” from time to time. This is not only disrespectful to the leader of the meeting but also lowers chances of having a productive meeting.

Talking productivity, as an Executive in the software industry, I have had great experiences with what is known as the “Pomodoro Technique“ introduced by Francesco Crillo* in the 1980s.

The basic idea is to assign 30 minutes time periods to tasks. 25 minutes of fully focused work and then a 5 min break for freshening up the brain. I love to get some fresh air, ideally outside or at an open window. So when I’m setting up my plan for next day, I assign one or some “pomodoros” (30 minute time periods) depending on the size of the tasks. After four „pomodoros“ there’s a 15 to 30 minutes break.

The key is to have no distractions at all in the 25 focus minutes. This means disabling everything that might disturb, e.g. sounds of incoming emails, messages, phone calls.
I’m aware that this is sometimes difficult, but after some time, everyone gets used to and accept it.

For me this works really well in terms of productivity and I highly recommend it!