The Pomodoro technique is one of the quickest ways to gain focus instantly.
It enables you to get rid of distractions but also improves your engagement by forcing you to set a clear goal.
Doing a Pomodoro is very simple:
You turn off your distractions and work in a sprint of 25 minutes, and after that, you take a 5-minute break.
The official Pomodoro technique
Not a software tool, but a shout-out to the inventor of the Pomodoro technique — Francesco Cirillo. Remember that you could do the Pomodoro technique with any physical timer!
One of the most famous and fun Pomodoro tools out there. With this app, you plant a tree before you start the Pomodoro technique. If you stop, you kill a tree. If you succeed, you slowly donate money to plant real trees!
PomoDone integrates with a lot of apps like Trello, Slack, Evernote, etc. This way you can import your tasks, select a to-do and start a Pomodoro on that topic. Now you have some excellent statistics of how many Pomodoros you have done per project/task.
2. Capturing thoughts
An important step to gain more focus is clearing the mind. Internal interruptions make up for a large percentage of your distractions, often more so than external distractions!
The following apps are tools that help you write down your ideas quickly.
And yes, you could use a pen and a paper too.
With Braintoss you can send messages straight to your email inbox. Very easy to use and it has an audio option build in too.
Straightforward and fast to use note taking app. Google Keep stands out by allowing you to set reminders based on location, so you can get a popup as you walk to your house or office.
A more advanced note taking app, but it is one of the best. Especially when you want to use it beyond just clearing the mind and (re)write out those thoughts into large pages.
3. Organising thoughts and tasks
One thing is to write out your ideas, but after a while, you need more. Because you can’t do everything at once, you have to organise the stuff you have to do in your life. Otherwise, your thoughts will interrupt you while you want to be focused. Luckily there are lots of ways to do this; you could write out a simple list, use the KanBan method or be more visual with a mindmap.
Straightforward to use and a powerful tool. It’s one of the best KanBan tools out there. It’s understandable for everyone, and it works very fast. But it is hard to manage your assigned tasks over multiple KanBan boards. So I would very much recommend it, but not for large teams or a lot of different areas and projects.
Has a KanBan and a list option. The KanBan option is not as impressive as Trellos, but besides that, it has some more features right out of the box. My favourite feature is the option to assign tasks to yourself and arrange them in Today, Next week and upcoming. Perfect for separating the important with the unimportant. I would recommend it if you are willing to put some time in to organise this with your colleagues.
My favourite mindmap tool. Very easy to use and it has a beautiful design. Perfect for writing out the bigger picture in your life, not so much your daily tasks. I use it in combination with the more task-oriented tools.
4. Background music/sound
If you work with others around you — especially in an open office — putting on some music is a great way to reduce the external distractions. But you have to be careful, the music itself can be a distraction too! So I’ve listed some tools that give you undistracted music/sounds.
An app that lets you mix and match real life noises like rain, the ocean and lots more. It’s free and works quite well for your focus. I use it in combination with other background music.
Spotify has a lot of curated lists specially made for focus! There are many different ones with different styles. My go-to setup is putting on one of these Spotify lists and turning on Noisli at the same time.
A very advanced but easy to use tool that gives you randomly generated music for focus, meditation or sleep. It’s more on the music side than the noise side. But you only have to press a button, and it does all the work for you.
Sometimes just writing out your thoughts and to-dos is not enough to calm the mind. Sometimes you keep distracting yourself anyway. Meditating or just breathing can be a great solution to calm the mind.
Headspace / Calm
Both apps are the best in the world when it comes to meditating. They also both give excellent guidance to beginners — which I am. I think the best way is to try them out both and see which voice you like best.
Trendy free app and has multiple languages. Not yet as fancy as headspace and calm but it is improving a lot, and it has a large community.
If meditating is a bit too much, I would suggest to try out box breathing once in a while. It’s just a quick way of helping you focus on your breath.