Clarifying our goals and dreams is the first step in achieving them. But then, what next? TAKE CONSISTENT ACTION. Taking consistent action is essential to getting to where you want to be. Here are three tools I’ve used to cut out distractions, find focus, and take action.
1. Clear up your inbox
Unroll.me is a free tool that will instantly lighten the load of your inbox. Basically, Unroll.me “rolls up” all of your subscription emails (think promotions, newsletters, retailers, etc.,) into one daily Roll Up. You’ll get a single email with clickable thumbnails of every subscription email you’ve received in the last 24 hours. You tell it which ones stay in your inbox and which ones go into the Roll Up. It also makes it super easy to unsubscribe from all the subscriptions you have but don’t really want anymore. It’s genius and it’s free. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter it feels to have a de-cluttered inbox and how much less susceptible you are to distractions, time-wasting emails and “accidental shopping” when there’s that little barrier between you and the subscription email.
2. Throw away your to-do list
I know. Scandalous. I’ve been a Lover Of Lists for as long as I could put pen to paper. Lists are life was my motto for years. But Brooke Castillo changed my mind about that with this training. Basically, her method involves brain dumping all of your to-dos onto paper and then scheduling them into your calendar as actionable tasks. I’ve been following this method for about 5 months and it’s been a really interesting experiment. It gives you the opportunity to notice how you’re using your time, how long certain tasks and whether you’re staying on task. I have found that I’m working even more efficiently and being more realistic about what I can actually get done in the time I have. It’s an experiment worth doing. Try it for 4 weeks and see what happens!
3. Find fierce focus
Once you’ve got your tasks scheduled on your calendar, find fierce focus and knock them over using the Pomodoro Technique. In a nutshell, you break down your work cycles into 25-minute sessions, punctuated by short breaks. The work sessions are called Pomodoros (from the Italian word for tomato), named after the tomato-shaped timer that the creator of this technique used as a student.
Here’s how to get your Pomodoro on:
- Select a task (e.g. writing a blog post, issuing invoices, studying, reading, etc.,)
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task until the timer goes off. If you notice yourself getting distracted (by phone calls, text messages, random ideas, the siren song of social media, or the rabbit hole of Google, for example) just get right back on track and remind yourself of the task and timeframe at hand.
- After the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break. Make a cup of tea, stretch, get your social media hit, respond to texts, etc.,
- At the end of the break, select a new task if you’ve finished the first task, or resume the original task for another 25-minute session.
- After completing four Pomodoros (four, 25-minute work sessions) you’ve earned yourself a longer break (15-30 minutes).
This is an excellent tool for getting shit done. I wrote my book using this technique, in fact! Rather than manually timing myself, I use the Be Focused app on my laptop, which makes Pomodoro-ing gameful and fun as you rack up little tomatoes on the screen. Give it a shot!
I hope these hacks are helpful! I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.