How I focus: Two Focus sessions per day.

Makzan’s Dispatch 2020 week 12

10 years ago when I was starting my game development company, I used the Pomodoro technique®. The key point there is to boost for 25 minutes of focus work and then break for 5 minutes. The theory is that we can only focus for 25 minutes before our energy is too low and get distracted.

I tried different ratios for the focus work time and break time. 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break; 30 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break; 25 minutes of work and 10 minutes of break; and even an extreme 30 minutes of work and 30 minutes of break. At last, I settle at something very different. I focus work for 2 hours in the morning and then focus for 2 hours again in the afternoon.

This is a bit more like the time blocking technique from Cal Newport, but not as precious as that. I call my 2 focus hour “focus session”. Here is how it works.

There are total 2, at most 3, focus sessions per day. One in the morning, usually from 10:30—12:30. One in the afternoon, from 15:00—17:00. If I have something urgent to complete, I will have another from 22:00—00:00, after my sons get asleep.

During the focus time, I treat the block of time as if a Test Project competition time in WorldSkills. That’s given the requirements and a well-defined outcome expectation, I try my best to focus and accomplish it. The outcome may be a deliverable or a milestone of an on-going project.

I treat the time as a competition time because when I was a competitor, I know that I can achieve loads of tasks within a short time. During the competition, I had to do it because when time’s up, it is over. In my daily tasks, this mindset gives me a total focus of 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.

Being highly focus consumes a lot of energy. That’s why having 2 sessions per day is enough. And I only allocate focus sessions in workdays. Besides the focus sessions, I took the time to take rest, or clean up misc. admin stuff, or catch-up with colleagues.

This is how I focus.

Links worth sharing

Github app for mobile is here

Color dot font

This reminds me the Blokk font and Redacted font.

AlphaGo Documentary is now on Youtube

Free resources online when staying home

Some resources I found to enjoy while staying home these weeks. By the way, I’m reading books from HyRead via local libraries for free. I also keep learning on Coursera and edX, tons of things to learn online.

Vienna State Opera

Audible Stories

17 museums from Europe for virtual visits

Among them, I enjoy virtual visiting Van Gogh Museum. I also enjoy the interaction of the Britsh Museum.

Cambridge Textbooks (Was free but temporary unavailable)

Code worth sharing

Fit text with CSS variable

Until next week,
Thomas Mak