30 Minutes of Pure Focus at a Time

Good morning and happy Monday to you all. It is the start of the work week for most, and usually for me, but this week I get to stay home in my pajamas because it’s fall break! I am taking the whole week to do only what I want to do. I don’t mean eating, Netflix, and naps, I mean catching up on posts and comments here, working on some creative writing pieces, and making something with my hands.

Sadly, I won’t be getting paid for my week off and that made the decision to stay home a hard one. I’ve been frustrated that there never seemed to be enough time for me to do much more writing and editing than what was required for this blog so I made the choice to do what felt right to me. I chose to use the time for my own personal goals.

I’m not good at managing my time though, especially my free time, unstructured, staying in my pajamas, time. Every day that I’m not at work I always make plans to get so much done and I never accomplish all that I want to. My problem is I get distracted so easily. I sit down to type or do some research and next thing I know I am up loading the dishwasher or eating a bowl of mac and cheese and making excuses to why it’s okay to start a two-hour movie.

Every few minutes I have to check my phone’s notifications and I get sucked into Facebook or Twitter. I decide I need more coffee and I figure while I’m up I should take out the trash. Then I remember there is a load of laundry in the wash that needs to go into the dryer and…and…and that’s why it takes hours and hours to write one blog post. Even now I am fighting the urge to check YouTube or Tumblr. Could you imagine how it would be if I were trying to write a book? The damn thing would never get written!

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.

– John Carmack

So this week I am working on time management and focus. My goal is to be able to work uninterrupted for 30 minutes at a time, then I can get up for 10 to do whatever popped into my head during those 30 minutes. I set a timer on my phone and I pick a mix from The Fader’s playlist and I type. I cannot open a new browser tab unless it directly relates to what I am writing. I keep a piece of paper and a pen next to me so I can write down anything I remember I want to do during my 10 minutes break.

Thirty minutes doesn’t sound like much but that’s because people very rarely work on one task at a time with complete focus for an extended period. Usually our minds are all over the place and where our minds go the body follows. I have tried this before in the past and it is amazing what you can do in such a short time if you do nothing but work on one task. I wrote this whole post in that time.*

I learned about the 30-10 hack a long time ago but like most people I believed that multi-tasking was the key to productivity. I thought “do all the tasks at once with no breaks” was the way to go because that’s what I had read on a lot of “productivity” blogs. Lately I have been suspicious of that advice, mainly because it has never seemed to work, so I thought I would do something different. So far today the 30-10 plan is working so I will stick with it all week and report back at the end.

In the meantime, I’d like to know if you have a similar way to work or manage your time? How do you stay focused? Do you believe in multi-tasking or are you a “one task at a time” type of person. Have you tried the 30-10 trick? Did it work? Let me know in the comments and, please, enjoy your Monday :)

I do what I do, and I do it well, and focus and take it one moment at a time.

– Jim Caviezel

*Before editing.

Original image via Mark Hunter

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Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

21 thoughts on “30 Minutes of Pure Focus at a Time”

  1. 30-10 sounds good to me. I usually work for hours on end. The problem with that is that I often feel like I cannot get started if I don’t have a huge chunk of time to commit to the task. Maybe if I attempted 30-10 I’d have less trouble getting started. Thanks :)

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    1. I have friends who are like that too. They feel like if they don’t have the whole day to devote to a task they will not start at all. This results in tasks going unfinished for sometimes weeks! Every day they feel like they just don’t have the time :/

      If you do try the 30-10 hack let me know if it works better for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I work as a freelancer, so your day sounds like my everyday battle. I get things done by doing some version of 30-10. Sometimes I trick myself into an hour of working, usually less, at a time. I can often get more done in that focused time than in several hours.

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    1. I’ve read that freelancers have to be very good at time management. I thought about working toward being a freelance writer but I’m not sure I’m that great of a self starter, but maybe with practice?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes you get paid in better ways than money. It is definitely time to take a break from work & focus on you. This sounds like a really hard challenge for someone like me 30-10? hmmmm my brain is already arguing with itself over the idea ha

    I also wanted to let you know…You’ve been nominated :)

    Blogger Recognition Award
    The Rules

    Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
    Give a brief story of how your blog got started
    Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
    Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
    List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

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    1. I did well with the 30-10 thing yesterday, not so much today though. My brain was arguing too :) Thanks for the nomination. Maybe after I’ve caught up on some posts here I’ll dedicate a post to it. I can’t promise though :/

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I too want to try this 30/10 hack! I used to work like that in university in the first few years. I do find I need a block of time to get stuff done, so a few hours of 30/10 would work wonders for me, I think. Thanks for sharing, hope it works well for you!

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    1. It worked well yesterday but sticking to it was hard today. I was tired and lacked the will power needed to stay off of social media. I will give it another real try tomorrow :)

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      1. You should try an application like AntiSocial! There are free versions of it – you can choose which sites to block, and how long you want to block them. You just hit start and you won’t be able to access the sites for the amount of time you chose. It’s what I use to be productive :)

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  5. I have tried a very similar method (25/5) that has worked great for me for certain tasks. If it’s a task I really have no passion for (I find if I already have passion for the task that I don’t really want to take the break after 25 minutes of focus lol), but it needs to get done, this method forces me to focus on the task. I find this method extremely useful as long as I have a long-term focus (I write about the difference between long and short-term focus here: https://forwardjourneyblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/day/) in mind before starting the timer. As long as each 25 (or 30 in your case :P) minute interval is used to focus on a task that aligns well with my overall goals, this method becomes invaluable to my productivity! :D

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    1. I really like this method but it will take some getting used to. I thought about 25/5 but 5 minutes didn’t feel like a long enough break. I use the break to take care of other items on my to do lists such as phone calls, emails, chores around the house, stuff that takes more than 5 minutes. I do like the way it splits the hour evenly in half though…..hm now I have to think about this :)

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    1. One task at a time is good but I have a hard time with tasks that are long term or require many steps. My mind works better if I know that “I must do this thing until the timer goes off and then i can do other things that are not this thing”. Two tasks or more at a time doesn’t really work for me because I end up forgetting about one of the tasks and working more on the other.

      If you do try the 30/10 hack let me know how it goes please :)

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  6. As a student I did 60minutes work 10 minutes break until I had 2 or 3 hours of work and then took a 2 hour break (lunch or something else) and the. Started again. Now I have a toddler and it is a lot lot harder to organise my time.

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    1. 60 minutes?? I doubt I could focus for that long, but who knows maybe if I keep this up I can stretch the work time out and eventually get up to an hour of uninterrupted work. One day….

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