15 minutes


  • The idea is that when scheduling work, if the piece of work takes 15 minutes or less, don’t even schedule it. Just do it right away. (This reduces a lot of organizational wheel spinning and water threading.)
  • Count every 15 minute interval when working on something – this helps increase focus.
  • You can take a break after good 15 minutes of work (also take a longer break after good 1 hour work work)

Tools for Gaining Focus


There are several tools for gaining focus, as referred to in the video “Study better, study less.” I outline some of them here.

A lot of those tools deal with time. I use a lot of counters of sorts, to focus during specific time intervals. I find 15min intervals work well. The video says that after focusing for 15 minutes, you should take a break for regaining focus. I have an hourglass, actually two hourglasses, one for 15mins and one that measures 1 hour.  I don’t take a break after 15 minutes of work, but it really helps to just count off those fifteen minute intervals. I make a note in my paper log for every 15 minutes in focus, and at the same time I measure off the hours, and mark those as well.

I use the flashlight as suggested by Marty Lobdell. As a reminder, the idea is to have a light that you turn on only when you’re working, to train yourself to have a Pavlov’s reflex to focus when the flashlight is on – catching focus, so to speak, with the flashlight. I use a battery-powered one because my desk lamp is always on.

Check out also another article about Time Tracking Tools. 

I find that turning off the phone really helps. That’s also quite a commitment – to not use the phone for 8 hours! But then you really keep your mind on what you are working on.

I’d also say that Physical Exercise is a precondition to having good focus.

And, practice makes perfect. It’s a Virtuous Circle: The more you do it, the better you are at it.

Focusing on no more than, like 3 things at a time (actually just 1 thing at a time) also really helps. I think personally I’m distracted just by the sheer number of things that I do. Cutting it down to 2 or at most 3 would be helpful.

Hunting down focus has always been a concern, a pursuit. I think it’s an ongoing one. That also means it’s a perishable skill – if you don’t practice focus, you lose it short-term. It’s not like you can achieve it once and keep it. Or maybe you can – maybe just knowing that you can focus for an entire day is surprisingly reassuring that you can do it again. Conversely, maybe if you haven’t been really focused, you may not know that it’s possible.

With that, enough rambling haha I hope I outlined some interesting tools for gaining focus.

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OKR = objective and key result

Objectives and key results (OKR) is a goal-setting framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.

The development of OKRs is generally attributed to Andy Grove, the “Father of OKRs”, who introduced the approach to Intel during his tenure there and documented this in his 1983 book High Output Management.[1] Grove’s simple but effective concept is explained by John Doerr: “The key result has to be measurable. But at the end you can look, and without any arguments: Did I do that or did I not do it? Yes? No? Simple. No judgments in it”.[2]

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OKR

Cone of Uncertainty

In project management, the Cone of Uncertainty describes the evolution of the amount of best case uncertainty during a project (Construx n.d.). At the beginning of a project, comparatively little is known about the product or work results, and so estimates are subject to large uncertainty. As more research and development is done, more information is learned about the project, and the uncertainty then tends to decrease, reaching 0% when all residual risk has been terminated or transferred. This usually happens by the end of the project i.e. by transferring the responsibilities to a separate maintenance group.

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cone_of_Uncertainty