Time Management Tools: focus booster

Faces of Time
Faces of Time. Todd Lappin. Flickr. CC-BY-NC.

As well as working as an Information Consultant for the Drama and Theatre, Media Arts, and English departments here at Royal Holloway, I had the bright idea of taking my Library and Information Science MSc part time. It has been very challenging and very interesting – and it’s nearly done! My final year of three has just begun and I’m currently making the first steps towards writing my dissertation (a study into first year arts undergraduates experience of libraries before university and how this influences the way in which they find information at higher education level, since you ask).

So I was browsing through the Library’s helpful Tools for Researchers prezi and I discovered (among other things): focus booster. http://www.focusboosterapp.com/  Focus booster is great.

What is it for?

Do you ever have those moments where you just don’t know where to begin? Or you’ve too many tasks and not enough time? Or too much time and you feel that you’ll never settle down and get something productive done. Focus booster allows you to set yourself short tasks in a timed period, followed by timed breaks, and is great for knuckling down and getting things done.

How does it work?

Focus booster uses ‘The Pomodoro Technique’, a time management method that “uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals (referred to as “pomodoros”) separated by breaks and is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.”

As the website states:

There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

    • decide on the task to be done
    • set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
    • work on the task until the timer rings; record the task status
    • take a short break (5 minutes)
    • every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15-20 minutes)

How do I get it?

You can download the app to your PC or Mac from http://www.focusboosterapp.com/download

Even better (for me, as I use a Chromebook), it’s available online: http://www.focusboosterapp.com/live

Both versions will tick to let you know a pomodoro has begun, change the timer colour to indicate how close you are to your next break, sound an alarm to let you know when time is up, and also let you adjust the time of pomodoros and breaks.

(There are whispers on Twitter that this will soon be available for iPhone and Android, so watch this space.)

Why should I use it?

Focus booster is a great psychological trick: you know you have a lot of work to get done, but the timed aspect means that you need to break your work down into manageable chunks – great, it already feels easier! Also, rather than thinking that you have the next seven hours to get something done, you have 25 minutes: long enough to focus, but not so long that you get distracted or tired.

If you’re easily distracted, this can be a great way of ensuring that short bursts of time are well spent; or if you find that you spend long periods staring down your computer screen this technique can encourage you to take regular breaks and relax rather than stress out. Personally, I find it really great for getting started; 25 minutes is just long enough not to be frightening, but I often find that I’ll get into what I’m doing, safe in the knowledge that a break is imminent, and then find that I’ve missed a break as I’ve got so into the task.

Burning the Clocks Cup Cakes
Burning the Clocks Cup Cakes. somewhereintheworldtoday. Flickr. CC-BY



Try it out – and comment below: was it useful?

What are your best techniques for managing your time and being more productive? Share in the comments below – tips are always appreciated!