Scott Jack

How I'm trying to improve my focus

I have been reading about how to make better use of my time. In 2019 I left a job I had been at for nearly 8 years, moved across the country, and then weathered the pandemic in relative isolation like many of you. Instead of taking another company job, I became self-employed as a marketing content writer. Handling of these changes at once became a challenge.

With less social interaction, less exercise, less change of scenery, and more time in front of the computer — which I didn’t even know was possible, I found myself struggling to focus. Instagram suggested I might have ADHD. Before asking my doc to medicate me, I tried to come up with other things I could do differently:

  • get 7-8 hours of sleep consistently
  • run or gym 3-4 times per week
  • eat better
  • schedule my time better

Sleep is still a struggle. My goal is phone off by 10pm, lights out by 11pm, up by 7am. And here I am, writing a post at 11:30pm.

I signed up for the gym. I’m getting there 2-3 times a week. Yesterday I went for a run instead. I feel a little better but still have some inches to drop and need more regularity for the mental benefits.

Eat better … let’s just say I’m focusing on hydration. Today I bought mango flavor essence drops for my Sodastream water.

‘Making better use of my time’ felt so nebulous. How can I achieve that? In school, I was the “performance under pressure” guy. That doesn’t work so well as an independent contractor. So I needed to do some research and get some ideas.

One promising idea I found was time tracking. The idea is to track how you use your time over several typical weeks. I am logging activities on 30-minute intervals in an Evernote template I made. When I’m writing, I put down how many words I wrote in the last 30 minutes. The template covers one week. At the end of each day I am color coding time-blocks by good/bad use of time. At the end of the week I plan to take a higher view to look for trends — high focus/energy hours, typical time wasters. I might start logging mood to see if there’s an hourly trend there, too.

I’m also going to try combining this with the pomodoro technique — using Windows 11 Focus sessions. The combination of time logging and focus timers helps me push myself to stay on task. It’s not easy yet, but I am trying to train my focus like a muscle and these tools seem to help.


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