As I process the flow of my days, something stands out very clearly – it’s so much easier now than ever before to give into distraction. Once upon a time, distractions had to be much more intentional, at least for me. I could hide a book – my biggest distraction – from myself. But, since I work on the computer and need the Internet for just about everything I do, it’s so incredibly easy to just click over to Facebook or follow this or that.
I Must Focus!
Focus has to be very, very intentional. That’s always a challenge, but some days are harder than others.
I’ve tried little tricks here and there to help me with this intentionality, but the one that works the best is time blocks.
Thanks to a little app on my computer, I have an automatic timer that gives me consistent work and break blocks. It seems that 25 minutes is the perfect work block. My timer gives me a work block, followed by a break block – with my choice of 5 or 15 minutes for a break. Usually, I take the 5 minutes. That gives me enough time to go to the bathroom, check on the kids, do a few lunges, grab some water, or whatever. It gets me moving (helpful since I have a desk job!), but it doesn’t waste work time. In fact, in a one-hour stretch, I’m more productive with two 25-minute work blocks and two 5-minute breaks than with a solid attempt to focus on work for one hour. I get more done with the blocks.
But, the breaks are only part of the productivity benefit. The flip side is that I set myself specific tasks in my 25-minute work block. I might have a writing block where all I’m going to do is write for 25 minutes without flipping back and forth to this or that. Just write. Then I set aside another blog for e-mail and miscellaneous small tasks. It’s amazing how much I can write in that block when I don’t allow myself to be distracted!
The catch is this: I have to do it.
I have to remember to utilize the timer.
I have to be diligent to take that break when the timer goes ding.
I have to be diligent to come back to work.
I have to be diligent to not allow myself to be distracted until the work timer goes off!
Whether it’s time blocks or some other productivity technique, none of it works without the discipline to diligently use the tools.
Discipline, my friends, is what is lacking in so many aspects of life. We refuse to discipline ourselves, so none of our tricks work! The techniques that work for me may or may not work for you. But, discipline works for us all. It makes us a better version of who we are. Every single time.
May we grow in discipline this week, no matter what our technique of choice may be!