April 28

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How to concentrate better

By Ralph Varcoe

April 28, 2020

productivity hacks

1.4   How to Concentrate Better

Productivity hack no.4 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.


In this productivity hack we'll look at how you can learn to concentrate better using a tomato.


In Section 3, Distraction we’ll look at how to avoid as many distractions as possible in order that you can focus. But assuming you are of a mind-set to do some really good work, what’s the best way to concentrate and get stuff done efficiently?

The human brain can’t concentrate effectively for very long, sustained periods of time. It depends on which studies you look at but it’s thought that maximum concentration is anywhere from 25-45 minutes. This means that while you can still concentrate after this time is up (else how can we sit a 3 hour exam or drive 5 hours straight) your peak levels of concentration tail off and you become less effective.

It’s not just about concentration. It’s also about creativity and mental alertness. These diminish over time too. It stands to reason, therefore, that if you give yourself some breaks to zone out and refresh, the quality of your work will be higher for longer.

Take the example of someone writing for 3 hours at a time. Say their normal hourly word rate is 2,000. In 3 hours straight they may get only 4,300 words written as their productivity tails off.

Then take the example of someone who works and rests in short bursts. A total of 2 hours 20 minutes working and 40 minutes at rest. They achieve 4,800 words. The quality is more consistent and better. They feel more energetic and less drained.

Interval working is good for you, just like interval training is for physical fitness.

  1. Select the task
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work solidly with no distraction for that duration
  3. Take a 5 minute break. Get up. Walk around. Zone out.
  4. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work solidly with no distraction for that duration
  5. Take a 5 minute break. Get up. Walk around. Zone out.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5
  7. Take a longer break of 20 minutes
  8. And repeat from step 2

This technique was made famous by using a timer in the shape of a red tomato and is most commonly referred to as the Pomodoro Technique (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato).

 There are plenty of Apps out there to help. Or go low tech and get a regular kitchen timer (tomato shape not necessary!)

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Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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