10 years ago when I was starting my game development company, I used the Pomodoro technique®. The key point there is to boost for 25 minutes of focus work and then break for 5 minutes. The theory is that we can only focus for 25 minutes before our energy is too low and get distracted.
I tried different ratios for the focus work time and break time. 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break; 30 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break; 25 minutes of work and 10 minutes of break; and even an extreme 30 minutes of work and 30 minutes of break. At last, I settle at something very different. I focus work for 2 hours in the morning and then focus for 2 hours again in the afternoon.
This is a bit more like the time blocking technique from Cal Newport, but not as precious as that. I call my 2 focus hour “focus session”. Here is how it works.
There are total 2, at most 3, focus sessions per day. One in the morning, usually from 10:30—12:30. One in the afternoon, from 15:00—17:00. If I have something urgent to complete, I will have another from 22:00—00:00, after my sons get asleep.
During the focus time, I treat the block of time as if a Test Project competition time in WorldSkills. That’s given the requirements and a well-defined outcome expectation, I try my best to focus and accomplish it. The outcome may be a deliverable or a milestone of an on-going project.
I treat the time as a competition time because when I was a competitor, I know that I can achieve loads of tasks within a short time. During the competition, I had to do it because when time’s up, it is over. In my daily tasks, this mindset gives me a total focus of 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.
Being highly focus consumes a lot of energy. That’s why having 2 sessions per day is enough. And I only allocate focus sessions in workdays. Besides the focus sessions, I took the time to take rest, or clean up misc. admin stuff, or catch-up with colleagues.
This is how I focus.