Why I created the Deep Focus Checklist.
I’ve been a time management coach for years, and one of the biggest problems my clients and students complain about is that they can’t focus—they’re constantly distracted by outside stimuli, their own thoughts, or the idea of what they should be doing instead of what they’re actually doing. It can be really frustrating!
That’s why I created this checklist—to give people concrete steps they can take to help them focus on what matters most so they can get more done in less time.
In this video, I’ll walk you through how to use the checklist to create the deep focus needed to complete critical, complex tasks.
Pre-Planning for Deep Focus
One of the best ways to create focus is by dedicating specific periods of time for deep focus—time in which you can really focus on what needs to get done and not be distracted by other things going on around you. This is called time blocking.
The first step is setting aside blocks of time as “deep focus” sessions. Choose times when you know there will be fewer interruptions or distractions—perhaps set aside 1-hour blocks each day or week—and stick to them.
Next, choose a key project you want to work on during each deep focus session. For example, if you have a big presentation coming up, spend some time working on it during one of your deep focus sessions. Or maybe you have a report due at work; schedule some time each day or week for getting that report done before the deadline hits!
Finally, make sure your workspace is clear of paper and other distractions so that when it’s time for deep focus, everything is ready for success! If your normal workspace is prone to interruption or difficult to focus in, book a free conference/focus room or plan to go to a library or coffee shop for your focus session instead!
Preparing for a Deep Focus Session
Getting ready to do a deep focus session?
Here’s what you need to do to prepare:
1. Tell your co-workers and receptionist you will be unavailable for the next hour or so because you are going into deep focus.
2. Turn off your smartphone (yes, I mean totally off or at least airplane mode)
3. Forward your business phone to voice mail
4. Close all computer programs, apps, and browser tabs that aren’t related to the project you’ll be working on during this focus session
5. Take 5 minutes to stretch and clear out your mind of the previous project before starting this one so you can start fresh
6. Set a timer like Clockify to track your focus time. Or if you want something more visual, use a kitchen timer or a smartphone timer (only if smartphone is in airplane mode). See my Clockify/time tracking video.
Maintaining Focus During Session
We know it can be tough to stay on task, especially when you’re just getting started. So we want to make it as easy as possible for you.
Here’s what we suggest:
- Work ONLY on the project designated for this focus session
- If this is your first time working on the project, you can use the first focus session for planning the project – creating a list of tasks and organizing them by priority
- If you are interrupted, pause the timer, deal with the interruption, emphasize that you are not to be disturbed, then unpause the timer and get back to the project
- If something occurs to you about another project while working, just jot a note down about the other project and get back to focusing on the scheduled project
- If you get antsy, pause the timer and take a 5-minute break after the first 30 minutes and stretch and move around to get comfortable
Be Amazed At What You Accomplish Using Deep Focus!
A lot of people think that they need to work for hours in order to get things done. But the truth is, you can accomplish a lot with just a few minutes of focused work—and sometimes even just one hour.
What if I told you that by taking 30 minutes out of your day, you could cross off an entire list of things that have been hanging over your head for weeks? What if I told you that by setting aside just one hour in the morning or evening, you could knock out everything on your plate for the day?
What if… well, what if?
Help Beyond the Deep Focus Checklist
Here are some additional ways to get help with creating deep focus or increasing your productivity.