When you have ADHD, the hardest thing in the world to do is focus.
You sit down to start writing an email or start a piece of work, happily typing away. And then ‘pop!’ You suddenly find yourself standing in the kitchen making a sandwich. This is the epitome of ADHD’s focus challenge.
What Is Focus, Anyway?
Let’s start by defining the goal. For our purposes, focus will be defined as action without distraction.
Action without distraction means that for a period of time—say, 20 minutes—you will work consistently on one task. All sandwich making and kitchen expeditions will be postponed until the end of this time period.
But first, we need to take five minutes to get set up.
The Five-Minute Focus Fix
Step One: Eliminate The Unpredictable Stimuli
If there’s a TV on, turn it off. If you can’t turn it off, put in headphones and play music you know intimately. Processing predictable actions and stimulations requires less mental effort than dealing with the unexpected.
I use a pair of noise cancelling earphones by Sony. They’re so good that when I take them flying, I can’t hear the kid in the seat behind me cry for 12 hours. Bliss.
Step Two: Get Focus Booster And Start Using The Pomodoro Technique
Start by downloading Focus Booster right now. You’ll be using this simple app to help you focus using the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple cycle for getting work done. In it’s simplest form you start with 20 minutes of high intensity, single task work. When the timer goes off you take a five-minute break. After three 20 minute cycles, you take a 15 minute break. And then you repeat the larger cycle (20/5/20/5/20/15) again.
These small breaks allow you to recharge before getting back into the focused work.
Step Three: Pick The First Three Small Steps You Need To Take To Get Started
Pick the first three, simple steps you need to take to get started on your task at the beginning of each 20-minute cycle. This will create momentum, helping you push past distractions and stay on track.
Step Four: Open All The Tabs You’ll Need For Your Task (Optional), Then Turn Off The Internet
Does your task require you to use the Internet for research? No worries. Open up each of the websites you need in individual tabs, and when they’re fully loaded turn off your Internet connection.
The Five-Minute Focus Formula
We’re keeping this approach simple. In five minutes we’ve created the path for you to have action without distraction. To recap, here’s what you’re doing.
- Setting up your environment to minimise distractions.
- Creating an easy to stick with work cycle.
- Pre-planning the tasks that will give us momentum.
- Eliminating the ever-present distraction of the Internet by pre-loading any information we might need.
Total time required to set up? Less than 5 minutes.