What is focus work boot camp?

At a focus work boot camp, people from different businesses/organisations/groups meet to do focus work together in a setup with both focus work sessions and shared work sessions during the day.

Focus work session, typically 3 hours:

  • all smartphones are collected, turned to silent mode and kept in a separate room
  • wifi is turned off
  • the participants work on each their piece of focus work that could include: Long-reading, writing, studying, sketching, etc.
  • midways in each session there is a small break where you may chat with the others, but still not connect to the internet or use the phone
  • you may very well use a computer as your tool, but it has to be disconnected from internet during the focus work session
  • during focus work session the jot down paper is an important tool to capture thoughts that pops into your head. Jotting the thoughts down, means you can carry on with your focus work without connecting to the net in order to check out your brilliant ideas.

Shared work sessions, typically on start of the day, during lunch break and at the end of the day
  • wifi is turned on
  • phones are available
  • chatting with the other «boot campers» is strongly encouraged and welcome!

Being proactive, working on the kind of work that is important (but maybe not urgent) for your long term goals, is what I call focus work. You can go to tons of seminars and lectures (including mine), where you get told about the importance of making space for this kind of work. At a focus work boot camp you actually work that way, instead of going to a seminar to hear about it.

Why do we need this kindergarden-setup?

As humans, we are evolutionary programmed to be curious. We have a strong urge to constantly examine our surrondings. Has anything happened? Is there something new going on? Something useful? Something fun? Something dangerous? This urge, combined with the hyperconnectivty that most of us are surrounded by every day, make us susceptible to a constant flow of interruptions. Both external interruptions with incoming notifcations, and internal interruptions from inside our own mind: Something pops into our head, and we urge to check it out. That urge makes us go online – because we can. Going online will most certainly interrupt our current work, all these interruptions make us unproductive.

It takes a lot of self discipline to suppress this urge. This is thoroughly described by Daniel Kahneman in the book Thinking, fast and slow, chapter 2 and 3 (I strongly recommend the book!). Self dicipline takes toll on our mental energy resources, energy we should rather spend on solving the task at hand.

You may of course very well do this on your own: Spend three hours on your regular job without going online, and with the phone turned off or packed away. Many people find that very hard however. When you put yourself in a group with a fixed setup like the focus work boot camp, you don’t need to spend your limited energy resources on suppressing your urge to check something online. Simply because you cannot.

What’s in it for me?

  • you will probably get surprised at how much useful work you get done during only one day
  • you will learn the benefits of focus work, which will make it easier for you to apply the habits needed to get into focus work mode, also on regular work days
  • your (possible) belief in the need for you to be available for everybody at all time gets challenged
  • you will learn and get inspiration from other cool people, and you can share your own ideas and get feedback on those ideas
  • you will experience that you manage all incoming interruptions (emails, social media notifications) a lot more effectively when handled in «batches» during the shared work sessions

How can I take part in a focus work boot camp?

You can either contact me to hear if there is a boot camp coming up anywhere near you, or you can set up your own! Everybody can set up their own focus work boot camp. This is what you need:
  • a venue that both has a well functioning wifi, and the possibility to turn it off. Coffee and fresh water should be available at all times
  • at least one more person that shares the understanding of focus work
  • a common agreement with the other person(s) about the rules: No wifi, and no phones, during focus work session.
  • recommended schedule: Two 3-hours sessions of focus work, with shared session both before, in between and after. If you find another schedule useful – please let me know!
Are you willing to give this a try? Pleas share your experiences either in the comment field, or on twitter –  #focusworkbootcamp. Feel free to contact me both before and after.