How I Stay Focused and Manage Time

A few weeks ago, I experienced one of these busy weeks with lots of meetings, Slack messages, working on different tasks. Although I did many things, I didn’t feel like getting anything done. So I decided to see how can I improve this.

First of all, the cost of getting interrupted while developing is high. You need time to get back on what you were doing, and if this happens a lot, you can’t manage to get many things done. The second thing I noticed was that I have to do better with planning for my day. I have a mix of personal stuff, university, and work. Some days, I’m constantly switching between tasks with different contexts, and I get myself out of the zone.

My setup

I’ve experimented with different productivity tools for focus and time management tools. I was looking for a simple enough task manager with a built-in time tracker that you can decide on something you must do in the day and track your time while doing them for the rest of the day. I could not find such a tool, so I combined different apps to achieve this.

Daily Planning

I use Notion as my general notebook to organize projects, learn lists, and other random things that gather here, not to forget them. I also started to use it as my time management tool just by creating a table where each row is a date, and inside that, I write my day plan:

Daily planning with Notion
Of course, it does not offer any unique feature here that other apps don’t. I prefer to write down my tasks as raw notes instead of task management apps to keep them simple and easy enough to do every day. This way, it helps me two organize my tasks such that:

  • I know what I want to do upfront, so I can plan to do them appropriately. For example, I can do all of my university stuff together to reduce context switching costs
  • If I can’t manage to do something on that day, it’s not lost, and I can move it to the next day

Time Tracking

I use Toggl to track how much time I spend on a task and focus while working. Toggl has a concept of clients and tasks, I defined my clients as DataChef, University and Personal stuff and tasks are my current work, whenever I decide to work on something I start the timer choose the client and start working. The remarkable feature is that they have a Pomodoro timer too, and I use this technique to focus on my job.

Toggl Timeline
If you’re not familiar with Pomodoro, here is the procedure from Wikipedia

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the Pomodoro timer (typically for 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task.
  4. End work when the timer rings and take a short break (typically 5–10 minutes).
  5. If you have fewer than three Pomodoros, go back to Step 2 and repeat until you go through all three Pomodoros.
  6. After three Pomodoros are done, take the fourth Pomodoro and then take an extended break (traditionally 20 to 30 minutes). Once the long break is finished, return to step 2.

I prefer it over other Pomodoro apps because the features it provides, such as reminders, help me to continuously not lose focus and track time. I started using Toggl with 25 min focus 5 min break and increased the time to 45 min focus in just two weeks!


I think task management and time tracking are not only for teams, but people can also boost their productivity with these methods. I did not go over all the features of the tools I mentioned because it’s not the tools that are important but the techniques you put in place to help yourself with focus and time management.