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Focus Management 101

If anyone has ever seen my calendar, you’ll know that I have a chunk of time most days of the week that I call a “Focus Block.” I learned this technique from Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, which I recommend everyone to read if they want to learn from professionals, like Seth Godin to Scott Belsky, on how they manage their time to do the great things they do.

I’ve taken this excerpt from the section of the book by Cal Newport that explains the technique:

The focus block method leverages the well-understood concept of a pre-scheduled appointment. It has you block off a substantial chunk of time, most days of the week, for applying sustained focus to your most important creative tasks. This scheduling usually happens at the beginning of a new week or at the end of the previous week. The key twist is that you mark this time on your calendar like any other meeting. This is especially important if your organization uses a shared calendar system.

He suggests starting with small blocks to get started, defining a clear task to focus on, and to also consider different locations to avoid distractions.

I found doing this for me has put me in my seat and got me working on projects that I’ve been pushing off due to a university procrastination lifestyle. I usually set these up for 3-5 hours depending on if there are any other plans. When it comes to learning how to code, I find the longer I spend on it, whether it’s debugging or going through tutorials, the better it sticks.

For me, it’s the psychological aspect in knowing that I have this scheduled in my calendar, so when a friend asks if I want to go out or if I feel like I want to just sit back and watch a show, I’ll know this is scheduled in and I’ll feel a responsibility to do it.

I create a mini agenda for each focus block that I stuff in the notes section of each event post. I list off items in priority sequence so that when I do sit down and get cracking, I’ll know what I need to do – a way to organize myself and avoid procrastinating by “organizing” my tasks during these blocks.

I hope it’s a helpful trick for you and that you give it a shot! For more useful tips on spending your time more wisely, check out Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind!

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