My Focus Tech StackJul 16, 2022
Hey everyone, Happy Saturday!
Have you ever found yourself short on focus, wishing you could get more done in a day?
I recently found a few Chrome extensions that are significantly improving my ability to accomplish deep work.
Today I’d like to share the top three with you.
This simple extension changes the “New Tab” functionality of Chrome to show a few things:
- A high resolution picture of nature. I find it helps me get centered.
- Your “main focus” for the day, which you write into the browser each morning
- The time, a quote, and the weather
It looks like this:
I’m at my most distractible when opening a new Chrome tab. At that moment I can begin a new work item, or as is often the case, get off task by habitually opening YouTube (more on that later) or some other website which was not related to my original intent.
Momentum gives me that short pause to stay on track.
2) Focus To Do
This is an easy to use Pomodoro timer. If you haven’t heard about it, the “Pomodoro Technique” has six steps:
Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the pomodoro timer (typically for 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and take a short break (typically 5–10 minutes).
- If you have finished fewer than three pomodoros, go back to Step 2 and repeat until you go through all three pomodoros.
- After three pomodoros are done, take the fourth pomodoro and then take a long break (typically 20 to 30 minutes). Once the long break is finished, return to step 2.
You click the Focus To Do icon (once installed) and there is a dashboard page which allows you to set up your tasks:
You click the start icon next to a task and go to a timer page for your working sessions:
And a timer page for your breaks:
The Pomodoro technique works well for me. Having a specific task (or batch of similar tasks) and the goal to get as many done as possible in 25 minutes helps me “Get in the zone”. One reason I think it works is because I know after the 25 minutes I get a break.
This way, when a distracting thought like “I wonder if I got any emails since I last checked?” pops up in my mind, I can tell myself “I’ll check on that during the 5 min break.” and stay focused.
This has both improved the amount of work I get done and decreased the “tired” feeling of slogging through work during the day. It’s a short intense session with a little break, and that has helped my output significantly.
I saved the best for last. I have a confession: I have a YouTube “at Work” problem.
It’s so easy for me to habitually open Youtube, and before I know what happened, click on a recommended video, spend 20 minutes watching, repeat this process several times a day, and around 6pm wonder why I couldn't get more done...
When you think about it, you realize that YouTube is a multi-billion dollar operation designed to feed you cheap dopamine. They employ machine learning, sophisticated rating algorithms, and habit forming cycles (which I can assure you have been meticulously engineered) with one result in mind: getting you to spend more time watching content on the platform.
Now I love YouTube, and I love the free content and information it has brought to the world. I think the world is better with YouTube than without it - BUT - my poor brain can’t win the fight against cheap dopamine every day without help.
Unhook will block any element on YouTube that you think distracts you. Turn off the home feed, subscriber notification, video comments, recommended videos, shorts, etc.
This allows me to stop the flood of cheap dopamine that overwhelms my poor brain's ability to say no. I can still search for content and watch videos, but then I’m in much greater control of my intent while on the platform.
Other than the benefits above, I also love that each of these extensions are free. They do offer paid versions, but I haven’t chosen to opt in.
If you’re interested, here are links to the three extensions:
That’s a wrap! Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you next week :)
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