(and just 5 more)

Today’s the day! I’m going to focus! I am going to power through my work! Nothing can stop me! My table is organised and my phone is on silent! Here’s my to-do list to guide me throughout the day! Oh! Here’s a small task I can finish in 5 minutes! Let’s do that and leave the larger tasks for later!

When you think back to one of these days, were you really productive or did you just feel productive? Were you in control of your tasks or were the tasks controlling your day? Did you ever manage to complete that big and important tasks or does it still linger on your to-do list?

Here’s the issue. Your brain is smarter than you think. If you are not focused, your lazy brain will prioritize short-term productivity over the long-term achievement. Don’t worry, it’s not a lost cause. Now that you are aware at how cunningly smart your mind is, here are 3 tips to help you stay focused on the important tasks:


Focus stamina

Your mind is similar to your body. It needs to be trained regularly and the growth can only be noticed gradually. Start with just 20 minutes on your important task and just do it. It could be just reading your work and listing out the important points. At the end of that 20 minutes, tell yourself, “just 5 more minutes”.

That’s it. Push yourself to do more than what you set out to accomplish. When your brain is tired and you force yourself to do that extra bit more, you stretch your mental capacity and strengthen your focus stamina for the next time you use it. This is similar to how athletes improve stamina; by training their body to exhaustion and whatever the circumstance, force themselves to do a bit more.

The next time you’re back on the task, set 25 minutes for it, and “just 5 more”.


Baby steps

When you start on your big task, think small. Small steps are compulsory to focusing on your goals. To-do lists are great when it comes to preparing for your goals. But when it comes to doing it, those tasks will become challenging than it appears on paper. When you encounter such tasks, focus on finishing 2 small actions. Followed by 2 more actions. And another 2 more. (Here’s where you’re practicing focus stamina too!)

“Go to gym” was on your list? Put on your gym clothes and fill your bottle with water. Done? Now towel and bottle into the bag and put on your running shoes. You get the picture.

Baby steps are important because they use your lazy brain to your advantage. When you focus and complete these baby steps, your mind gets the feeling of productivity and a short burst of positivity. This gives you the momentum to continue working on tasks to achieve your goal.



This is my favourite tip because I love to read! It not only increases your knowledge but is a great focus practice exercise too. It doesn’t matter what you are reading, so long as you read continuously. Set aside 30 minutes to read and slowly build your focus stamina up to 2 or more hours.

When you read, your mind is busily understanding and learning new information whilst your eyes continue to absorb more information. This involves a lot of mental energy so it practices your ability to focus. Make sure to ask yourself questions about what you are reading after a few pages to make sure your brain is processing and retaining the material effectively.After a while, your brain will naturally tire out. So remember, “Just 5 more!”

A final note about reading, the exercise is not about scanning through the text as quickly as possible within the time frame, but to train your mind to focus on the information at hand. You make only be able to read 5 pages in the 30 minutes but that’s okay. Next time, aim for 7 pages in 40 minutes!


If you can only remember 1 tip, remember “Just 5 more”!



  1. 11 Tools for Time Management | Linus Tan - […] writing a few articles about time management, followed by a few thoughts about multitasking, how to focus and the…


20 SEP 2016



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