Focused work is the holly grail for entrepreneurs. Having run a business for last 8 years from home, I’ve experimented a lot with this.
It might be some slight ADHD but there’s so many distractions and shiny objects to chase.
Truth is, people spend too much time being BUSY working on shallow/ reactive types of work (meetings, calls, emails), and not enough time doing Deep work (productive, thoughtful and focused work that will genuinely add to the bottom line)
When you’re in flow, focused work state, time disappears and you achieve bucket loads.
Have you ever been in this kind of Deep work, Focused work or Flow as some people call it?
With working from home a new norm likely to stay (for at least 2-3 days per week?), I wanted to share experiments I’ve done over the years on this – more on the website.
So how do you keep focused on work and minimise distractions?
Personally I’ve always struggled with focusing on a single task from start to finish. Something shinier appears and I’m off in that direction.
I’ve experimented over the years with ways of focusing, some notable findings:
- At University, I studied best in the Pub (great background noise – until people got too drunk)
- In Investment Banking, I worked silly hours and tended to find 20:00 to 00:00 to be most productive (as I wanted to finish to go home!)
But neither of those tricks really suits my reality now, with my own business and a young family.
So here’s my current ideal world “focused work stack” that I use:
- Block out all morning for focused work – no meetings/ calls/ emails/ anything – tell people you’re not available until 12:00. Select 1 specific task you want to focus on and plan it.
- Creating ideal conditions and a routine to help you focus is great, for me it’s fasting in the morning, strong coffee, quick exercise then focus. It’s about minimising willpower needed and having habits that help.
- Turn on Focus At Will which is binaural beats (I love it) or something similar (like Focus at Will)
- Essential oil in a diffuser – no kidding – people have talked about this for centuries (rosemary, lavender, peppermint, lemon, basil)
- Pomodoros (25mins increments) with 1 clear Goal in that time and a reason why this matters to you – forcing a timeframe focuses your mind, like this one
- A reward planned at end of time period so I have a hard stop time (condensing work into a shorter period)
I’ve found that my “focus muscles” have gotten stronger by planning this in my week and sticking with it.
Things that have also worked:
- Accountability buddies – people working at same time as you, online, with same pomodoro timers – at end of 25mins, check in on progress and what’s planned on next pomodoro sprint. A Mastermind can also help with that
- Clearing ALL emails night before so you have nothing in the back of your mind as “I should do this”, and all to do’s filtered through the Do Decide Delete Delegate decision matrix
- Nootropics (lots from Natural Stacks and other brands) – I used these a lot but possibly over did it… fully legal and herbs based of course
There’s lots of things to try and this can be very individual, but the key is to have an experiment mindset and see what works for you!
Why Focsued Work?
Frankly in 4-5 weekly sessions of c.3 hours, you can really make things move in your business/ job. This is not reactive work like answering emails, booking meetings, sending invoices… but bigger chunks of work that you know deep down would move the needle but you’ve been putting off as “too busy”.
I do shallow/ reactive work post 12:00 and people know they can contact me then.
Focsued work is for things that will move the needle in your business.
For me, it’s things like designing an app, financial modelling a Startup, writing content, reviewing/ improving processes, strategy, etc.
Making deep work a priority is like a super power – what would you use your super power for?