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I practise pomodoro technique and for the most part it works pretty well.

However, sometimes when I do get distracted (today it's been bitcoin, and Tinder), I find it hard to get back in the zone.

It's tempted to want to take a break, get away from the computer, and then start a fresh.

Any other suggestions?

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I use a zen chime (sample here) to refocus. – Penguin_Knight Nov 22 '13 at 15:41
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I often feel this way—needing a sort of "clean slate" to be productive again, after a disruption. Once I "mess up" the flow, I often feel like I've already tarnished some record, and don't feel like starting right away again.

Maybe some people can just tell themselves that a new start is a new start—that one shouldn't get so hung up about something that happened half an hour ago—but me, I'm not so good at that—for me, feelings persist, regardless my knowledge of what's (ir)rational to think.

What's worked for me is discovering physical "rituals" that make me feel "fresh" again, and reenacting these rituals each time I feel I need a new start. Some of my rituals include

  1. brewing a pot of my favorite coffee,
  2. making myself some tea (a specific tea reserved for this ritual),
  3. washing my hands and face,
  4. putting on cologne (a specific citrus-scented one, which reminds me of cleanness).

I found that physical rituals like these not only provide one-off "resets" to help me refocus, but also, with repetition, strengthen so much in association with "clearing the slate" that they even help when I'm feeling bad about non-productivity-related things.

Of course, YMMV.

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+1 for the special tea. :) – dwjohnston Nov 26 '13 at 3:33
Similarly suggested later on: – BCLC Aug 12 '15 at 21:28

i think a common and very useful method in many ways is meditation. the key concepts are very easy and not isoteric at all. just close your eyes and only focus on your breath. thats about everything you need. you can try counting your breaths to notice better when you cant concentrate. if any distracting thoughts come to your head, just dont give them any attention and let them pass by like a cloud. it also can help to focus on a very steady sound or pattern, like the ticking of a clock ( or like i said your breath ). dont try changing your breath, just watch it in an relaxed but focused way.
good luck finding the perfect way for you

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Funny question, as I'm on here as a break from what I should really be doing right now!

My best technique, and I practice pomodoro, too, is to set up a bunch of very small, not too difficult tasks (I track them via an easy online tool) that help me get back into whatever I'm doing. For instance, I have a report to do in a minute and my tasks are as follows:

a. Find document b. Open document c. Open all reference documents d. Run quick spell check e. Take notes on first reference document

It may sound silly, but having easy tasks like this ("e" is not as easy) I feel like I can get some things checked off without it feeling like too much work. Off I go!

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What I usually do is what I quite simply call "starting" method - I set up a 5 min. pomodoro as a deadline. It's better than pushing yourself to start now because it eases up the pressure. Also, data show that (quite obviously) if you keep starting chances are you'll get it done sooner.

If I get distracted I use if/then method. That is I am trying to develop a habit I will do automatically when distracted.

One of the things I am testing is simple breathing for a minute or so. It turns out that if you start controlling your breath somehow it extends to my mind.

I usually do that in situation when I get somehow frustrated and leaning towards escapism in my mindset, what usually means I start to procrastinate. Other options aside from breathing is 10 pushups, changing environment - I go to different room, change thinking about the frustration or taking a break.

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