Summer and the warmer months are just around the corner and with the great sunshine, dreams of upcoming holidays and the occasional longer lunches, it can sometimes become a little harder to keep focus and stay productive at work.

So we thought we’d share a fantastic method for staying focused, when the work is piling up and you need to get a few jobs ticked off the list! Don’t worry, we’re not going to share the idea of a to-do list. By now everyone has a to-do list, plus a list inside a list of things to do, so instead, we’re going to share a 10 minute top tip for your mornings, that helps make the to-do list more achievable, a strategy that was recently recommended and shared by Harvard Business School.

Get settled and started

Grab your cup of tea, a quiet few minutes and a notepad and pen. Setting yourself a fresh page for the day, spend 5 minutes jotting down all the tasks in your mind, for the day, for the week, get it all written down (this ‘brain dump’ process is well known to help clear the chaos and reassure yourself you’ve remembered all the tasks, so you can begin to focus on the individual jobs at hand)

Next, look across your list and pick your top three things that need your attention today and highlight these.

Break it down

Step three, you can go as creative or as simple as you like here, but on the page opposite break your day down into hour or 30-minute chunks, a simple list of 9 am to 6 pm can work just as well as any artistic bullet journal, no art degrees needed.

Slot your three essential tasks into your day, marking out the time you feel these may take. Plan in a lunch break, or coffee break and jot these in too, if time allows, fill any other space in your day with some of the other tasks you initially wrote down as and where they fit in, giving each a time window. If you know your job is the kind where your day is often peppered with ad-hoc, unplanned tasks, set some time aside for these too. 15/30 minute windows for any emergencies or new calls to action!

Stick with it

Now your day is planned, stick to it! Setting your mind a time frame for tasks is known to help improve and strengthen the focus on the task at hand. Another tip to work with the journal is to set timers on your phone or computer to signal when your time for the current task is up.

The visual reminder of a timer helps to create a deadline feeling that is known to help you’re your brain and focus the higher attention on the project it needs to complete it. Plus knowing you have a break scheduled or a change of task ahead, is more likely to keep you on track and stop you from wandering off for a snack or a quick check of social media.

At the end of the day cross out all the jobs completed from the initial task list, so you know exactly where you are for the next morning and are ready for the new day’s list tomorrow!

This method of time management has become so popular that the Harvard students who created this approach have published a journal to replicate the page needed, and many cheaper copies have become available online too (if interested search for a time management planner or time boxing journal), plus free online printable templates. However all of these really aren’t necessary, a simple blank page in a notepad is all you need to get your day planned out and focus fine-tuned.