How to stay focused: part 2

✨ This is a game changer! ✨

Struggling to stay focused? You’re not alone.
I just spoke with a brain researcher about the negative impact social media has on our focus – but I don’t want to ditch social media (because it’s not ALL bad) so instead – let’s look at solutions! 

In this post, I’ll share strategies to handle distractions and achieve laser-like focus in your work and study sessions.


Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique? 

How does it work and why is it effective? 

“The secret to effective time management is… thinking in tomatoes rather than hours.”  
What on earth does that mean?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo. 
It involves breaking work into intervals, usually 25 minutes, with short breaks in between. The intervals are called “pomodoros.” (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato)


Here’s how you can do it: 


– Set a timer for 25 minutes, this is one “pomodoro” session.
I use my Apple watch as a timer so that I don’t have to get distracted by my phone – but an old school egg timer works great too (and I’ve heard that’s where the expression comes from: sometimes egg timers are shaped as tomatoes?) 


– Work on a single task with full focus until the timer rings. 
Always have a notebook next to you – and if you get distracted – write it down. 


– Take a short break, 3 – 5 minutes. 
Stand up, do some squats for example, stretch, breathe. 


– After four pomodoro intervals, take a longer break 


Repeat throughout your workday. 
Adjust the length based on your personal preferences. 

Read more about the Pomodoro Technique 

This can also be helpful:

1. What is REALLY important?

Do those things first!
Even if you feel resistance…
Our minds can be so funny… ticking off “easy” tasks can make us feel efficient: we’re “getting things done”.
Have you ever thought:
“I’ll just reply to some emails… and THEN I’ll get started with the important stuff!”
And of course, replying to emails can also be important. But before we know it, the whole day is gone, and what we REALLY needed to do (our accounts for example) is still not done, which makes us feel even more stressed. 

Doing the most important things first, is good for our reward system and gives us energy. 


2. Create space

We often overestimate what we can do in one single day – which creates stress.
I usually set aside 2 hours per day for what REALLY must be done – and the work that I do the rest of the day is a bonus! It means I always get more done than I had “planned” – instead of feeling like a failure! 

Things will always come up which you haven’t planned – so instead of trying to squeeze in too much in your planning for one day – make a list of “things I’d like to do but that doesn’t HAVE TO get done today.” 
Same thing for meetings: if possible, don’t plan meetings back-to-back: create some space in between. 


3. Phone in another room 

I mentioned this in the previous post, about focus & yoga – but this is REALLY a big one for me. I read a study recently that pointed out that even if a phone is in flight mode – we easily get distracted by just SEEING it. 

I usually do 4 pomodoro intervals – and then I check my phone and take a longer break. I know this is tricky if you have to be available for various reasons – so I actually have a second phone with no apps (super boring) 😉 with a separate number – which only my family members know. 


4. Notebook & post it-note

As mentioned above, whenever you get distracted “I have to remember to send that email” – write it down, and set aside time at the end of the day to go through your notes and add the tasks to your to do list. 

Another trick which also comes from a brain researcher is to write down your task that you’re doing right now on a post it note, and put it on your computer screen. If you get distracted by other people (phone calls, colleagues, kids etc) – the post it note will immediately remind you about what you were doing and it’ll be easier to continue your work. 


5. Remember to take breaks! 

One of the things that I find REALLY challenging with the pomodoro technique is to take a break when I’m in a flow! I don’t want to break the flow…  But! A short break will actually help you with MAINTAINING the flow! If you feel resistance, keep it really short: even a 1-minute break makes a difference: just get up, do some stretches, shift your gaze to something far away to give your eyes some rest… and then get back to your screen. 🙂

Taking breaks is also important for your nervous system and can reduce stress.


5. Yoga Nidra

Still feeling tired, unmotivated or distracted? 
Do a short Yoga Nidra practice! It can give you an energy boost, and it gives your mind some space to digest information and come up with new ideas. 


7. Make a ta-da-list at the end of the day!

Sometimes it feels like you didn’t get anything done – but you did! Write down things you’re proud of. This trick comes from one of my lovely students and I love it!

It doesn’t have to be work related! For example: “cooked dinner instead of eating just muesli” (that’s one of my ongoing issues…) 😉

I have a gratitude journal, which I also use for other reflections, and I set aside a few minutes every evening to write in this before I go to sleep. 

“I have a to-do list
and a ta-da list!” 

So, with the Pomodoro technique and implementing these practical strategies, you can cultivate a focused and efficient approach whether you’re doing admin or studying.

Let me know how it goes! 

And hey – you know what? Sometimes the most productive thing we can do is to take TIME OFF! We’re not robots!  More about that in another post. 🙂 




(Photo: my cute assistant Epson in my office in Stockholm)


Coming up next: 
How can we use FOCUS as a theme in yoga classes?