How to stay focused when you're looking for your next job
Staying focused when you’re looking for a job is a tough thing to do. Really, how tough is it to keep your mind on writing yet another cover letter when you could just as easily check your Facebook status.
Or look at the sports news.
Or see what’s on sale on Amazon today.
Or check your email yet again.
Let’s face it… we all want to get more done, but staying on topic is not an easy thing to do.
About a year ago I stumbled upon a productivity tool that is amazingly simple but so effective that I use it every day. This tool will help you stay focused, keep you from getting burned out, and help you be as productive as you’ve ever been. And it won’t cost you a dime!
What is it?
It’s called a Pomodoro Timer, a Tomato Timer (pomodoro is Italian for tomato), or any of several other names that are around today. It’s based on a concept developed by Francisco Cirillo of Italy in the late 1980s that sets specific intervals for work and rest.
You can find automated Pomodoro timers online, you can use your own kitchen timer, or you can use an app on your smartphone, like I use. Some cost a couple of bucks, but the one I use is free.
How does it work?
The timer starts out at 25 minutes. That’s the time you work. Not eight hours, not the four hours you’re going to put in before lunch, just 25 minutes.
Then, after 25 minutes, the alarm goes off. You then stop working and take a 5 minute break. Get up from your desk, walk around, pet your dog, get another cup of coffee, then sit down for the next 25 minute work interval.
Why is it so great?
Like most anything that is great, it’s simple. Anyone can understand it. Work for 25 minutes, rest for five. Easy.
What’s at play here, though, is the way you start thinking. First off, working for 25 minutes is much more manageable than working for four, or even eight, hours. Eight hours is daunting, even though you ‘do it’ every day. Twenty-five minutes is easy, so you get right to it, jumping into your work in earnest. After all, it’s only 25 minutes.
Before long, you get into the flow, which is when you work and you stop noticing the time. After all, the timer is taking care of the time for you, so you don’t have to.
Soon, after 20 to 23 minutes of this, you check the timer and realize you only have a couple of minutes before you get a break. Nice! What you then find yourself naturally doing is seeing how much you can get done before the timer goes off. You’re literally trying to beat the clock!
Then the alarm goes off. Take a break, you’ve earned it. Be sure to get up from your desk and walk around. Get another cup of coffee. Make a restroom run. Stretch. If you’re home, pet your dog.
Then the alarm goes off again, and it’s time to put in another 25 minutes of work. This time it’s easier, though. You’ve already begun, now you’re just picking up where you left off.
Do this all morning. Stick to the timer and don’t let it down! Work when you’re supposed to, rest when you’re supposed to.
Before long, noon comes around. It’s time for lunch. I guarantee you that you’ll notice a couple of things:
- You’ve gotten more done in the morning than you usually get done in an entire day.
- You’re not tired or burned out. Those little rest periods really did the trick!
- You appreciate your lunch break more than you have in weeks. Maybe ever. You’ve earned it.
- You’re looking forward to starting again after lunch.
A Pomodoro timer is an outstanding productivity timer for everyone, but especially for the job seeker. Looking for a job isn’t especially pleasant, and there isn’t a boss looking over your shoulder, so it’s easier to slough off. This time-management approach will help you find a job faster, and work better at it when you start working.
I’d write more, but my timer just went off. Time to pet my dog.