Last month I wrote about how having a dedicated time each day to focus on a ‘highlight’ had been a really successful strategy for me.
As I started to tackle my first work highlight task, I wanted to use a timer to help me focus for the period of time I’d allocated (90 minutes on that occasion). I often use an Echo as a timer, but for some reason I decided instead to use the Windows 10 clock.
When I opened the Clock app on my laptop I noticed that there was a menu option for ‘Focus sessions’; it was like it had read my mind! Originally a Windows 11 feature, it has been rolling out to Windows 10 over the summer.
The Focus sessions option on the Clock works like a customisable Pomodoro timer. It allows you to choose the length of the session (from a predefined list in 15 minute intervals starting at 15 minutes as the shortest available period) and then, if the session is longer than 30 minutes, you can choose whether or not to have breaks.
I keep the breaks in but will sometimes choose to work through them or only use them to take a short eye break rather than get up from my desk. It depends on the task I am focused on. You can change the length of the breaks (the default is 5 minutes) and also set yourself a daily goal of how much focused time you want to achieve.
The focus timer minimises nicely and you can make it small enough to see how much time is remaining or even smaller so that you just have a visual of remaining time without an actual number of minutes/seconds.
This is a really simple way to focus; it doesn’t allow you to lock out any apps or web pages that you know may distract you. However I find that putting my Teams status to Do not disturb and minimising my email client is all I need to ensure that I’ll remain focused until the break or end of session.
There’s no way for it to know that you’ve lost focus, but that’s fine with me; just having the timer there is enough to remind me to stay on task.
Since using the Focus sessions timer and highlights on a daily basis I have felt a much stronger sense of achievement in my work and it has had a knock on into the rest of the day. I guess I have taught myself how to focus again!