Have you ever felt like you needed help getting focused? Yeah, me too. I thought some kind of desktop timer might be just the thing and was pretty excited when I discovered the Focus Booster. It’s an Adobe Air application that I’ve been testing for several days and it works great.
Focus Booster is based on something called the ‘Pomodoro Technique, a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980′s. It can be used for any kind of task and enables you to view time as a valuable ally in accomplishing what you want to do. The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals separated by breaks and is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. It’s simple interface is easy to use and its minimal design provides awareness of your session, without distracting you from it.’
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
- decide on the task to be done
- set the timer to 25 minutes
- work on the task until the timer rings; record the task status
- take a short break (5 minutes)
- every four sessions take a longer break (15-20 minutes)
Just 25 minutes sounded like a manageable amount of time even for the most tedious jobs. I’m convinced it helped me succeed in plowing through 240 pages of the latest proof from my editor in only two days. When one session ended, I took my break and came back, raring to go at it again. There was a sweet sense of success in completing each 25 minute session, which propelled me onward.
I used Focus Booster for social networking sessions as well, which is a great method for keeping that time sucker under control.
How it looks:
Here’s the collapsed version (actual size):
- it has a sleek black frame with colored timer bar which changes at the 5 minute mark
- you can place it anywhere you want on your screen or taskbar
- it can be sized down very small (above) or stretched out (below) to nestle on your taskbar
- it gives you the option of staying on top of your other windows
Here’s the stretched version:
Below is a screenshot of the Reset Window:
- I found the ticking helpful. It kept me focused on the fact that I was really working and would just have to wait until the session ended before I could check my email or Twitter.
- You can turn the ticking off however, or simply control the volume with your computer’s speakers.
- The alarm at the end of the session is fairly short and quiet; probably a good thing if you have co-workers or your nerves are easily rattled. It’s not an alarming kind of alarm.
I’ve seen reports of how sitting in your chair for hours is bad for your health, even if you manage to workout everyday. You’ve probably seen these reports too. But whether we’re on a roll or still struggling to find that elusive phrase, getting our bums out of the chair doesn’t come easily for most writers. Of course, I’m making assumptions here, but I can’t be the only one, right?
This systems works pretty well and I found the 5 minutes breaks could be pretty darn productive and made a list. Some things you can do on your 5 minute breaks:
- get a cup of coffee
- put a load of laundry in
- do something energetic like jumping jack, sit ups, or laps around the living room
- clean the kitty litter box
- get something out of the freezer for dinner
Do you have any other suggestions? Does this sound like a useful tool for you? Let me know.
Tool review: 5 stars Pros: it’s all good; no Cons
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