The Ultimate Trick to Stay Focused 24/7

A great way to kick yourself where it hurts, at every single new browser tab.


I really have to stay focused on this. Alright, let’s do this.

Snap, I forgot to find a Christmas present for my sister.

** CTRL+T | **

Exactly one hour later:
 — 911, what’s your emergency?
 I lost my focus, once again, can you help me?

This happened to me a week ago.

Not the 911 part, but still. I had planned to get some work done on my programming side project. I didn’t. Luckily enough, I did find a present. But it wasn’t the right time to handle this matter.

I had lost the focus game. Once again.

The Situation

Nowadays, the Internet is at the root of almost every kind of distractions. More and more tools are web-based. And even if we still do some work on dedicated native apps, the web browser is always opened aside, waiting for the right moment to get our full attention.

They are basically three things we can do to prevent this evil from hurting our focus:

  • Work with a tool that doesn’t have a web browser
  • Have an incredible focus and commitment
  • Hurt our self so badly when we open the dangerous new tab that we get back to work immediately

The first one is a no-brainer since there will always be a case where you’ll need the browser to get some help with your work.

The incredible focus and commitment, well. It can definitely have an impact at your workplace. But for stuff like side-projects, it may not.

Which leaves us with the last option. Finding a compromise between keeping the web browser opened and being freaked out by something. Something that could make you feel so guilty that there is no way around not getting your focus back.

Since computers can’t read our minds (yet), it has to be something that can work in every situation.

What are we the most afraid of losing? Our money, our job, our skills?

Our Time. And not our day time, or our week time. The finite and irretrievable “Time” that is being given to us when we were born.

The Trick

I was browsing Medium when I came across the incredible app that is Gyroscope. An operating system for the human body, as they advertise. Gyroscope is merging data coming from the wide possibilities of services you can link. This app is the most beautifully designed and polished I’ve seen to date. Yet I don’t find it to be useful enough for me to trade in and centralize all my personal data.

Back to our topic, I do use one unique free feature: the web browser new tab replacement.

There are many themes available, but the one we’re looking for here is called Motivation, for obscure reasons.

Don’t worry, it’s even crazier at a real framerate.

The only thing it displays is my age. But definitely not in a common way.

The 9th digit is changing so fast that you can’t follow it.
In fact, the last three digits are increasing at a very noticeable speed.

Scary, isn’t it?

Can you picture your precious Time fleeing away so fast that it frightens the hell out of you?

Well, try to set this up as a new browser tab.

Next time you’ll hit CTRL+T, I guarantee you that you will stare at your screen, eyes wide opened.
So badly hurt that you’ll hear yourself saying “Screw this”, and get back to work as soon as possible.

Plus I’m only twenty 😟.

Only a Chrome extension is available for now, I don’t know if they’ll extend it to more platforms in the future. I could have coded one for the story, but I thought giving credits to Gyroscope for this idea was better. Let me know in the comments if you would be interested in a cross-browser user-account-free implementation of this idea.

The Takeaway

No matter how hard or committed we are or try to be, there will always be a part of humanity in us, which differentiates our self from machines. The same humanity will force us to take the slippery 5' break to go shopping or reading. Or handling whatever pseudo-urgent matter that isn’t tightly related to our work.

Pretending that something is urgent is the greatest time-eater possible.

A way to kick our self where it hurts and bring us back to earth has to be found. This trick worked for me this entire week. Maybe I’ll get used to seeing my Time melting away and it will eventually stop working. But I don’t think so. And I’m confident about the fact that I’m not the only one.

My age when I finished writing this story.

This was my new tab screen when I finished writing this story. It took me about 0.0004 years. Reasoning in hours, days or weeks doesn’t really grab our attention. But it does for years, especially when we see them pilling up in real time, right at the decisive moment.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 273,103+ people.

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