tricks for concentration

{staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs

the freelance life to the corporate world

I’ve had all sorts of jobs and schedules just over the last 5 to 7 years. I was working behind a desk for the government then a student and then on the ground in a foreign country all before launching my own business, which started from my flat. I find it a blessing that I didn’t go straight behind a desk right after college and was given some time to figure out what exactly it was that I wanted and needed. The various experiences opened me up to so much and through it all staying disciplined throughout the day has been the only way to efficiently get work done and achieve results. Today I work out of an office space and on certain days, where high concentration is crucial to get my work done, I tend to stay at home to prevent distractions. So I’m sharing what works for me and would love for you to share what does/doesn’t for you.


First and foremost, coffee is something that I tried to shake, but I probably never would. The ability to make my own cup every morning, the methodical process, helps me get through the morning slump. I found that owning a coffee machine, like my Nescafe Dolce Gusto, when working from home can increase concentration, save you money and provide barista quality coffee that you might not have access to if you’re not always working in the city.

{staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs
{staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs {staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs

timing & distractions

I am definitely someone who can work for very long periods of time without getting tired and losing too much focus. It works for me, but not all the time. On days that I have a lot of analytical work {think numerical strategy}, I tend to burn out quickly so I usually practice the 20-20 rule. This is where I will work for 20 minutes straight and then take a 20 second break. I use that 20 seconds off to literally close my eyes and turn up the volume of my music. Then I head straight back into it again. This is something I did through my econometrics courses… and I graduated with a first, ha!

In the age of social media and all its over exploitations, we can get stuck in this tech-induced black hole. There have been countless occasions where I get into my bed, just pop open Instagram and then find myself desperately breathing for air as I unintentionally drowned myself into my feed for over an hour. Block. These. Distractions. Out. I use the Toggl App on my desktop to manage my time and make sure I utilize my time in the right places. I have also shared a few of my favorite productivity apps here!

{staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs

{staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs

routine & rewards

Every single time I meet with people they often ask how I get so much done in a day. I talk about efficiency and they confuse it with routine. I never have a routine and if you can’t tell from my stories on Instagram, where I share bits of my life, I will go anywhere from being a blogger in the morning to consultant the rest of the day, to enjoying a dinner with the girlfriends. No two days are the same and I like to keep it that way to keep myself excited and motivated to work the next day. It is true that some days/weeks are extremely long, but then I will reward myself with nice things, cheeky drinks, night out or a dinner for two. Recently, I started pre-rewarding-which is where I will reward myself before a long day of tasks, but I make it purposeful. Last week I had a very long day of meetings and negotiations ahead of me, so I treated myself to a nice, healthy and hearty breakfast. So just enjoy the bits in life!

Finally, on a similar note, I did write a bit about my tricks on staying motivation {long-term} as well.


{staying disciplined} via chevrons & éclairs

  • Sarah

    S, you are an absolute beauty! Looks like I need a coffee machine if it’s helping you get so much done :o) xxx

  • I love that 20-20 break. I may try that also!

  • Love these!! Coffee is always great but sometimes I need more than just that

    Emma | With A City Dream

  • Coffee/tea is essential to how I function. I usually like to enjoy 2-3 cups of coffee a day, but I’ve cut down to 1 cup (my pre-workout trick) a day and will eventually cut it out just for dieting on special occasion purposes (weddings and reunions coming up, have to look good!). I think it’s important to always have a plan, but always allow for flexibility within a day. The brain works in funny ways where sometimes it can work for long periods of time and then other days it wants to do the exact opposite. So glad we have so much in common in how we work! Also, love the pink in this post!

  • Paige Allison

    Only a 20 second break for 20 mins of work? Heck, I do tabata and know how fast that goes… When I used to write grant budgets I’d work for about 15 minutes with full force and concentration, then take a solid 5-10 mins to do something mind numbing – fill my water bottle, go talk to a coworker, cruise Facebook. Those little mental breaks makes the time that you do work SO much more efficient! Oh, and lots of coffee 🙂

    • ah yeah, if I gave myself 5 minutes that gives me time to log onto Facebook and then I get lost in doing all of that. Plus, 5 minute breaks would be so distracting for me and I’ll try to find a way to be productive in other ways. Also, I don’t think I could do tabata when I’m facilitating a bunch of employees. My analysts would just think I’m goofing around haha

  • I, like you, have tried to shake the coffee habit before but it keeps coming back. Old habits die hard I guess!

  • Thanks for sharing all your tips babe! Do you have any articles on negotiations? I would love to read some tips! – Samantha

  • Jamie

    This was a great read for tips to stay concentrated. I definitely do need to try the 20-20 rule.