I built Focus based on the techniques I use on a daily basis to stay productive. I use a combination of paper, calendar, and other tools to achieve what I wanted. Instead of using multiple options, I put together a tool that does it all together as a one-stop-shop. And what can be a better place than a browser? We use it every day, don’t we?
So, here is an overview of how I use the tool on a daily basis. You don’t have to follow my approach, because everyone has their own style. But, if you don’t know where to get started, you can follow my technique and improvise according to your needs
Starting the day:
I start my day with a short 5 min meditation. I open a new tab in chrome, click on ‘Start a Productive Day’ click on the 5 min meditation link which opens a guided meditation Youtube video. Though short, the time spent helps me clear my mind and get into the zone.
I click on the ‘Tasks to Focus’ feature and list down all the tasks that need my attention for the day. Please note that I don’t use this as a to-do list. The purpose of this feature is to only list the tasks which I have to focus on today.
I add about 5-8 items to this list depending on the day. I try not to add more unless they’re simple tasks. The more tasks I add, the higher the chances that I’ll leave some of them incomplete. I like to make sure I complete all the tasks that I list because achieving daily targets turns into a powerful habit.
Completing the tasks:
For most of the tasks that I have listed, I click on ‘Start Pomodoro’, choose an appropriate timer, and get started. Keeping a countdown helps me stay focused and cut down any distractions. It also keeps me on my toes and challenges me to work faster. I don’t always take breaks between Pomodoros(yeah, I go against the traditional advice many a time).
As soon as I finish a task, I open ‘Tasks to Focus’ and click on the tick symbol to mark it complete. This provides me a dopamine rush and a momentum to keep going. If you don’t mark your tasks complete, I recommend you to do it as soon as your done. Science has shown that marking a task complete builds motivation to keep going.
Please note: I don’t use Pomodoros for all my tasks. I roughly complete 10 pomodoros a day, most of which are 20-30 mins long. Some of them are shorter, but none longer.
Staying on top of tasks:
Every time I complete a task, I look through my ‘Tasks to Focus’ list and pick the most appropriate one.
Every few hours, I open a new tab to see where I stand. The block at the bottom shows me how many tasks have I completed. If I feel my progress is slow for the day, I click on that block and take a look at my pending tasks.
Every afternoon, before lunch, I check what tasks are pending for the day. I do the same before or after I step out for a break which is more than 15 min long.
Ending the day:
Before I end my day, I spend 5 minutes reflecting on how my day went. I write down:
- 3 achievements for the day, no matter how small
- 3 mistakes I committed, no matter how small
Writing them down helps me play by my strengths and avoid mistakes the next time. The feature isn’t available in the tool yet, but I intend to add it in the weeks to come.
End of day meditation:
Before winding up, I click on ‘Start A Productive Day’, and open the evening meditation by clicking ‘Meditate for 5 mins before ending the day’. The short 5 min Youtube video which opens helps me unwind, get out of my work mindset and free my head of any remnant thoughts. I then head over to spend time with my wife without any work residue in my head.
In today’s work from home environment, this short 5 min meditation can help you separate your professional and personal life.
My Distraction Blocking Settings:
My day starts at 6:30 AM and ends at 8 PM, inclusive of my workout in between. So, I set my distraction blocking from 6 AM to 8 PM on all weekdays.
My Tab Blocking Settings:
I keep tab blocking and set the notification for open tabs to 20. For me, I need to keep close to 10 tabs open all the time for easy access to my routine work. I know that’s a large number, but this tool has helped me cut down the number of tabs I keep open from 40+ to 20 now.
Whenever the notification shows that I have over 25 tabs open, I click on ‘Tab Control’ and close any unnecessary open tabs.
A final note:
That’s about it. These might seem like small changes, but the beauty of productivity lies in simplicity. Don’t use complicated techniques. The easiest tips are the ones that yields the best results. So when it comes to productivity, keep it simple.