I thought I would start off with a uniquely simple time management tip that has helped me get a surprising amount of work done in a short period of time. I’ve come to hear of this technique from 2 different sources over the last 3 months. I first was introduced to it by Ed Dale in his mentoring program. He calls this CFT or Critical Focus Time. I was also told about this technique just last week from Nic Lucas, a good friend of mine who was talking about the Pomodoro technique. They are basically the same thing. The Pomodoro technique was coined by Francesco Cirillo in 1992. I’m not sure when Ed coined the CFT.
Here’s how it works:
The idea is to time yourself in 30 minute intervals. 25 minutes of Critical Focus Time and 5 minutes break. Ed explains that he knows this technique is used by some of the top internet marketers and business people in the world. Critical Focus Time is specific though. You have to be doing something in that time that directly grows your business. This could be writing a blog post, contacting JV partners, developing a product, or anything that will directly grow your business now or in the future. It doesn’t include things like reading a book, learning about social media, chatting to friends on Skype, or browsing on the net. The idea is to do one CFT or Pomodoro per day, or if you can’t manage that, do one per week. The main focus is consistency and committing to it.
It takes a little while to get used to this technique. Ed stresses the importance of taking a break for 5 minutes. For me, I use this technique for writing blog posts. I set the timer on my iPhone to 25 minutes. I do find it hard to stop at 25 minutes though. I usually just take 10 seconds to write an entry in my CFT document and then start the timer again. Being a coder, I’m used to working in 2-4 hour blocks focused on completing a particular feature or entire program but I find just the task of timing myself gives me a goal and I know that I’m going to complete a blog post without interruption. I will usually do 3 CFT sessions per day back to back. That’s usually how long it takes me to write a blog post, but I’m noticing that I’m getting quicker at it, which I wouldn’t know if I wasn’t timing myself.
I think Ed specified one CFT per day to accommodate most people doing his Challenge who might have a full time job and can only put aside 30 minutes per day. I believe he also sets a benchmark of 5 CFT sessions to get out 1 blog post. So, that’s one blog post per week. For me, I aim to get out a new blog post every day. I think once a week is not enough, but it’s a good benchmark to aim for if you haven’t done anything like this before.
I find doing 3 CFT’s and getting out one new blog post before I start working on other things is a good way to get a sense of accomplishment for the day. I’m usually in a better mood for the rest of the day when I feel like I’ve definitely achieved something. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been working all day on programming, site design, and sales copy but still haven’t achieved much. This technique helps to give me a sense of achievement.
What do you think of this technique? Are you using it already? What sort of things do you plan for your CFT sessions?