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.

Planning Tools


  • Gnatt charts
  • Jira : ( or redmine
  • ffcrm
  • financial projections: breakeven analysis
  • SWOT
  • whiteboard -> wireframe -> mockup -> implementation ( back & front ) -> test -> deploy -> monitor
  • the 10 questions to ask to determine, is it worth going to market?
  • Calculating IRR & MIRR
  • marketing maillist
  • Zoho?

Core: motivation velocity


One of the tricks is to gain motivation velocity. (You need to use Belief trait to enable this.) When you know you want/need to increase your operational speed and focus, but it’s difficult for you to focus on the specific problem at hand (it’s a bias – see #Catch22.5, where you literally cannot work on the one thing you need to work on). Then, do something that is (a) unrelated, and (b) you can do pretty easily. Maybe something physical – like working out for 5 minutes, if you have your mobile workout setup (See #MobileWorkout). I usually find that I can carry the focus from the simpler task, to the more difficult one.

Also, this process can be long-term. You can help yourself for the current task at hand, but also doing this consistently for months and years will have a different kind of benefit: a unique flexibility in directing your focus.

I also find it useful to rotate 3 tasks (I’m researching the optimal number of tasks). That is, when you are doing one task and get stuck, switch to the other task for a while, and then switch back to the first one. Maybe two tasks “at once” (but see #NoMultitasking for a corollary) is ideal? Maybe 3 or 4? Maybe it depends on the person. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Tools For Stress Relief


* how to sleep: weighted blanket, therapeutic mattress, eye mask, melatonin, ear plugs, plenty of water, no light / candle light, two alarms, climate control.
* pets, such as two cats. I’m not in a good position to talk about relationships, but being in a relationship should decrease stress. Having sex also obviously decreases stress.
* Good diet – feel great about yourself!
* Exercise. Being fit increases confidence and decreases stress
* Dress well. That improves your appearance to everybody else, and positively impacts everything.

Belief

I’m a highly technical person and science plays a big role in my life and work, and it’s perhaps surprizing that I mention faith – but it’s true, faith has a place in my definition of personal corporate culture.

You have to do the best you can. You have to be on top of your game, at all times (and especially at crunch time or competition time). And remember the split-second rule: you only have a splitsecond to make a decision, and every mistake can make or break a task.

But what we are doing is developing ourselves, so that we are great. And from that, the success comes almost automatically. So we are not pursuing success as much as we pursue self-actualization, and success is a by-product of being on top of your game. That’s where faith and belief comes in. I’m a highly technical person and science plays a big role in my life and work, and it’s perhaps surprizing that I mention faith – but it’s true, faith has a place in my definition of personal corporate culture. You have to believe that success will come. You have to believe that small actions that you take and don’t seem to receive a rewad – eventually, the totality of your “correct” actions brings about success. It’s a bit of a leap because it’s entirely possible that a sequence of all the correct actions, still doesn’t bring success. You can make no mistakes, and still fail ([insert quite, image]), that’s the nature of the open market. The leap then is the leap of faith: the belief that eventually, the totality of correct actions brings about success. Whatever your definition of success might be.

80/20

80% stress, 20% relax

This came up in Financial Times today. We aren’t Millenials, we’re Generation Burnout. We work too hard for too little, and do ourselves a disfavor by not seeing the forest for the trees. What’s the goal, anyway?

I say, leave some of your time (and money) unallocated. I say, if the problem is that we work too hard and spread ourselves too thin, let’s stop doing that. Cut yourself some slack, and have time and resources that are unallocated. This helps you cope with stress, AND allows you to effectively deal with instantaneous things that come up. If you have free time, you don’t have to schedule every little thing to be done later, you can just do it now.

Overall, look at the 80/20 rule, it’s quite interesting.

Tools: Water

It took me a whole going into adulthood business to realize just how important water is, and I suspect that as I get older, water will become even more important for me.

It’s not just that it’s critical to survival. It’s quite critical to health in the following ways:

* A guard against hangovers. If you drink enough water while going out, your hangover will be minimal. The suggestion is to chug a 8-12oz water glass with every drink, and that’s what I do. Say at a bar, I order a beer, and also water, chug the water, then sip the beer. Do it between 9pm-3am, not have a terrible hangover in the morning. Without water tho, your hangover will be so much worse.

* Better sleep and shorter sleep requirement! I just kind of discovered it recently, and still subject to validation. If you go to sleep well-hydrated, you need to sleep less to recover your energy. It’s a time saver! Continue reading “Tools: Water”

Fitness: Jiu Jitsu


This is actually a requirement for me now, every day or at least 4 days a week. I love it and I can’t stop. Although, a friend of mine said he’s actually burned out from jiu jitsu: that he has been doing it for, like, 5 years, and he doesn’t really want to do it anymore. For me, I physically cannot stop, it causes inefficiency in everything else I do. So, it’s curious. But the bottom line on physical fitness is, you have to do it, consistently, forever. This way, you can also start being good or great at everything else you do.