#57 – Remote Working: Staying Focused

A change of environment can be super distracting. For me, it can be as little as how much, or little, sleep I’m getting, or whether I’m maintaining a responsible, or irresponsible, level of caffeine intake. Don’t waste time being envious of those laser-focused, seemingly robotic colleagues because focus is learnable.

After a decade of constant business travel across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), I got used to working anywhere I could: airports, coffee shops, hotel lobbies… I’ve worked in them all. But it wasn’t easy, not until I started framing individual tasks and setting myself up to succeed no matter what external forces or distractions were acting upon me.

The picture above is a spreadsheet that’s been evolving over a few years. It started as a simple list of 20 minute intervals that I would manually update throughout the day, but when I realized how much this process was helping me I started automating it with spreadsheet formulas. Hoping it will be as useful to others as it is to me, I’m posting it on REDtalks.live for free download – subscribe to the email list to get update notifications.

NOTE: there are no scripts or macros in these spreadsheets, only native formulas.

This tool made huge improvements to my productivity by enabling me to focus, and it applies to both remote and office working, equally. All feedback and feedback suggestions welcome!

How does it work?

The short version:

  • Enter the start and end times of your day
  • Enter a length of time for which you’d like to remain focussed on a task
  • Enter a short plan/review period for each focus session
  • Enter how many focus sessions you’d like to tackle before taking a refreshing, well earned break.
Video explanation / demonstration

The remainder of the fields are programmagically calculated and your schedule for the day is now in the two columns on the left. Now you just need a timer, like the one on your smartphone, or, if the smartphone is part of the distraction problem, you can install one of the many free timer apps on your computer. At the moment I’m using Horo.

You can access these tools on the new Productivity page. Please let me know what you think, and what improvements I might make to help you out.

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