I own a lovely white cargo bike. It’s a great bike that allows me to carry 2 kids on the back. Once you pick up momentum it’s quite easy to ride even carrying the weight. But it’s the moments when we are on a bit of hill and I have to stop, that it becomes a struggle to get going again, suddenly I feel all the weight, have to get my balance just right, have to push harder to get going and it feels like a slog. I have lost my momentum.
When it comes to creative work, there is so much value in momentum and focus.
When you go all-in on one thing, get in a flow state and ride the momentum that’s when you are both productive and produce your best work.
Focus and momentum are very much interlinked. In order to gain momentum you need to have focus and when your focus is spread or torn momentum is lost or hard to gain.
What is Flow State
Flow state is when you lose your sense of time. When you are so lost in what you are working on, that everything else fades. There are no distractions or interruptions. The ideas are flowing and you find your rhythm. You are so focused on what you are working on, and you are super productive because you are in the zone.
According to Wikipedia, it’s “The mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
With so many distractions in our lives, the idea of getting into the zone may seem challenging. As a mother, I know his all too well. But even short bursts of flow can be immensely beneficial and can propel a project forward.
So I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks to get better focus and momentum, so you can create better work and get projects moving faster, in a way that excites you and allows you to feel fully immersed and energised.
How to have Better Focus and Momentum in your Creative Work
These are some of the methods I have used and tried out to help with focus and getting in flow.
There is a thing called ‘context switching’. When we switch from one task to another it takes our brains about 20min to get in the zone for the next task. So if we are trying to do a lot of different things in a day, or attempting to multi-task (which your brain actually can’t do -sorry. It just has to keep switching) we are wasting a lot of time.
We aren’t robots. We can’t simply work on one task, then turn around and start the next task and get right into it, it takes time for our brain to fully focus in on the new ask.
This is why batching is powerful. Your brain is already primed and in flow, you have your workspace set up and everything in place for the task, your mind is on that task. So it only makes sense to keep going and do more of that task.
So consider the kinds of tasks and projects you work on in the week, and how you can batch things together. Do all your writing on one day, all your emails in one hit (rather than living in your inbox). Give yourself a full day for a project rather than trying to manage several at once.
You can even go bigger picture and look at what you do in a month. Or completely focus on one big project or client at a time.
The more you batch, the more you will find yourself getting in flow with the task, and the better work, with greater focus and momentum.
Using the Pomodoro Technique-
If you are kind of person that either struggles to focus for long periods of time, or finds themselves getting distracted a lot while working, such as frequent trips to the fridge, constant phone checking, or going to ‘look something up’ and then finding yourself lost down an internet rabbit hole, then you may find using Pomodoro helpful.
This is a simple method to balance focus with deliberate breaks. Focus sessions are typically 25min with a 5 min break, or if you want a longer stretch you can put several together followed b a longer break. Such as 50min followed by a 10min break.
Test it out, see how long you can focus for before you get an itch for a break. When you deliberately time your focus and break times, it gives you structure, so you fully focus during the focus time, knowing a break will come, rather than spending your whole day trying to focus but constantly getting distracted.
Using Forest App
If you like motivation for having focus time, forest app is really fun. You can set a time you want to focus for, you can also get it to stop you from using your phone during that time, and as you focus it grows a tree. If you cancel early, the tree dies.
The longer the focus time the better the tree you get, all your trees get planted in your forest (even the dead ones) so it’s very motivating. If you need that little bit of accountability this app is great. You can even invite friends, for extra accountability.
Working in Sprints
Sprints are something I like to use to focus on big projects and goals. I usually base it on a 90-day sprint, but sometimes the goal will finish sooner or take a little longer.
90-day sprints are useful because rather than looking at what you want to achieve in a whole year, and that feel overwhelming. You break down your goals into 90 day sprints.
So you decide on one big project or goal for the sprint, then you break it down into milestones and tasks and create a task list for yourself to get it all done.
This helps you break a big project down into manageable tasks and helps you focus on getting it complete.
If you have had some big ideas, projects or goals that seem to keep getting pushed aside or only worked on very slowly because they seem so big and overwhelming, using sprints can make it so much more achievable.
Focus Music and Sounds
If your someone that likes background noise and some sounds to get you motivated, you can use focus sounds to help you focus on your work without it becoming a distraction.
just like a good fast beat can get you pumped to excessive, focus sounds are great for keeping your mind on the job.
One I have used is brain.fm which has plenty to choose from, also on YouTube you can find various focus music, cafe sounds and relaxation music, depending on what you are working on and the mood you want to create to motivate you.
Calling in your focus
If you have been working on and doing other things all day, you may want to prep yourself for focusing on a new task. Take a moment to stop, breathe, think about the task you are about to do. Bring your full attention to it. You may want to close your eyes and talk to yourself about what you about to do. This may be very useful if your day has felt busy and all over the place and you need to calm and reset your mind to prepare for some focused time.
Big picture momentum.
Other the project and day to day focus that gives you momentum, there is also that overall business momentum that you want to see.
For things to grow and snowball, rather than feel like an endless slog and… well like trying to ride a cargo bike up a steep hill.
You might be getting somewhere but it’s slow and hard work.
Now I am not expert at doing this, juggling with kids, family and home life, as well as my business, means I have a lot of hurdles to jump and speed bumps slowing me down. But having so much to overcome has helped me to find ways to get more momentum happening.
Challenges push you to find these solutions. When everything is going well and fine and dandy that’s when we tend to not feel as bothered and don’t seek the better ways of doing things that reap greater results. We just simply cruise.
So as I said momentum and focus and very much intertwined. So guess how you get that big picture business momentum… by focusing.
And I don’t mean have ‘focus time’ and plenty of flow state work. While that can help get a project happening and help you do your best work, you also need to distil down WHAT you are working on and doing.
Focus on one product. (Or collection or type of product if you sell physical goods). Don’t spread yourself thin trying to create and market so many different things. Narrow down, go all in and focus on one thing. It will help you get in flow with your messaging, better understand your audience and how they feel about your products and how you can improve it and give it your all. You will know it inside out and be able to give all your energy to it. Once it’s going well, you can focus on the next product or offer. But going all-in on one at a time creates momentum.
Focus on one platform. It’s easy to feel like you have to be everywhere on all the social media’s all the time. But this makes growth slower and leaves you burnt out. If you want to gain real momentum and growth… pick one go all in and give it your all. Once you have big growth on that one platform you can then expand and focus on more as you now have a bigger audience to get you going.
Focus on one content channel. Blogging, podcasts, YouTube, IGTV. Ahh so much content to make! No.. focus on one. The beauty of content is it can be repurposed. So pick one channel, do you prefer to write, talk or record? And how does your audience prefer to consume?
Once you find your perfect content platform focus on creating great content for that platform and then find ways to repurpose it elsewhere to increase its reach.
For example, turn your podcast into a blog post or embed your YouTube into a blog post with some text or take the audio from your video and make a podcast, or cut up your video for social media or email your list your blog post. Choose that one content platform to focus on and learn how to best optimise it. Give it your all and if you want to expand.. simply repurpose.
Focus your strategy. How are you making sales? Is it through launches, funnels, sales, ads, word of mouth, referrals or getting in the media? Find the system that is most effective for you and you have a good system for and get really good at it. This doesn’t mean it’s your only way of promoting, but rather give it your greatest attention so you can perfect it and make it work really well for you. By giving it that focus you amplify it, you take the time to work out where any holes are and how to tweak it to make it even better.
When you focus only on singular things in your business rather than spreading yourself thin, you gain more traction and momentum, which makes it so much easier to then expand later (and possibly hire help to spread your reach).
If you try to do too many things at once, especially when just started out, you’ll only feel like a headless chicken running about from place to place and not really getting anywhere.
Momentum and Focus Brings Clarity
When you get yourself in the zone, fully immersed in one project, topic or task, you will find clarity comes. If you have been wrestling with a direction to go or how to go about something, spending a lot of time working on the project related to the problem will help you find the clarity you need.
You’ll be amazed at how it can open doors, provide light bulb moments and propel your business in the right direction. You will finally feel like you are making progress.