I’m at my desk 9am until 4pm most days.
But I haven’t been making enough progress for all the time I spend there. 
I went searching for a different way and I think I’ve found it.


Being at the desk doesn’t equal progress if you spend the day chasing rabbits down research holes, checking social media, replying to non-urgent emails etc.
So I started using the Pomodoro Technique, breaking my day into timed chunks of Focus Blocks.
Nothing new so far – but here’s the magic bit.
I’ve added in Unfocus Blocks.

Anyone who regularly succeeds in long deep work sessions is almost certainly someone skilled at deploying deep breaks to keep the session going without burning out or losing focus.

Cal Newport, Author

I’ve done deep work sprints before but like Cal Newport says in this article, burn out is a problem.

Having unfocused time helps me maintain momentum, and return to writing with new ideas and insights. 

How I do it.

Focus Block – 90 minutes of deep work.
I choose a single project to work on. 
I turn off distractions and turn on Focus@Will sound app

  • Work for 45 minutes
  • Take a five minute break
  • Work for 45 minutes

Unfocus Block – up to 30 minutes 
After every Focus Block, I choose something quite different.

  • Take a short walk
  • Do a household job
  • Throw the ball for Shep, our border collie 
  • Clean up leaves (there are always leaves in the Perth hills) 

This approach keeps my energy and enthusiasm high for every new block and it gives me time to reflect, which is so valuable for writing.

It makes a big difference. 

Now instead of monitoring time at my desk, I’m focusing on doing at least 20 hours (10 blocks) on projects that will build my body of work.

I feel so much happier at the end of the week.

Now instead of monitoring how long I’m at my desk, I aim to do at least 10 Focus/Unfocus Blocks each week. That’s to 20 hours of deep work each week – (90 minutes focus + 30 minutes unfocus).

This approach keeps my energy and drive high for every new block and gives time to reflect, which is so valuable for writing.

What do you think? Will you try it or do you have another fabulous productivity routine? I’d love to know.

Feel free to get in touch to talk about how I can help you. Email me, sherene@sherenestrahan.com

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

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