Focusing

Focusing on the things I need to be doing is often hard and I am always trying to lure my monkey brain to actually listen to me and not live a life of its own.

Flow

Getting in the flow state is one of the most important things I try to focus on throughout the day.

I try to define a certain set of rules and processes that I like myself to follow for doing certain things.

For example, one of these rules is that I need to be proactive with my email and action on every email I read. But there are many other ones out there.

Focusing on what's important

I keep a private Trello board where I outline things that I want to focus on in life and achieve. I try to not work on long periods of time and predict things in advance for over three months and instead work in very short time frames whilst having some end goal(s) in mind of what I ultimately want to achieve. Here is how my Focus Trello board looks:

I mark the cards I want to focus on right now in my life and then only see the cards I want to focus on right now on the board.

I use the same Focus on cards approach for all my other Trello boards too.

Focus sessions

I use Focus app to block many non work related websites for 100 minutes (front pages of Hacker News, Reddit, ..) every 2 hours.

I also have Focus trigger Do Not Disturb mode on Focusing. This way I get no notifications when I am working and I get 0 distractions.

The things I work on during this 100 min focus session is specified by an event in Fantastical. The events are simply names of projects on which I want to work on in that time. Here are the most common events I use and what I do during them:

  • Code - I use Bee app and work through GitHub issues in Next list.
  • Inbox - I open 2Do and work through the most prioritized tasks for Today.
  • Books - I open PDF Expert and read through the book I set out to read.
  • Research papers - I open PDF Expert and read through the research paper I set out to read.
  • Learn - I choose a topic I want to learn from Trello and learn it. Usually I start with wiki and resources from LA.
  • Ideas - I pick an idea I want to work on from Trello and make it.
  • Work - I work through most urgent tasks I need to complete for the company/startup I am working for or freelancing.

At the end of the 100 min focus session, Timing shows up automatically and I say which projects I worked on in this 100 min period. The projects in Timing are a reflection of projects in my Focus Trello board.

I also use modified EggTimer workflow to quickly set time estimates for tasks I am working on.

I focus fully on solving problems I need to solve and spend 0 energy thinking about what I should be doing or whether I am spending my time wisely in the moment. Full focus on the task at hand. No multitasking. No distractions.

Other things

  • I don't listen to distracting music when focusing and instead use Noizio, Oak or listen to my Focus playlist.
  • I always have water or tea nearby and keep myself hydrated. If I can't solve some problem or feel like I can't keep my focus, I take a walk outside or do some exercise.
  • I try to work outside of home and move often. When that is not possible I emulate a working environment in some part of my home so my brain knows that if I am in this place, it is time to work and not do anything else.
  • I don't use any external monitors. I found multiple monitors distracting as I can do everything fast from my computer already.
  • I strive to support my happiness by working on projects that I care about and looking after my health.
  • I constantly refine my workflow to be more efficient and better every day. I also maintain a set of my own rules in life that I follow.

Notes

  • You can't manage projects. You can only manage actions related to projects.

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