What we know from neuroscience is that our brain doesn’t have the ability to focus longer than that of a goldfish. Well, that is actually true. Our brains don’t have the ability to truly focus for very long. But yet almost anyone who comes to a coach for assistance says, oh, I want more focus. I wanna be able to, you know, get more done. Luckily, there are tools available to help you focus when trying to grow in your career.

What we know from neuroscience is that our brain doesn’t have the ability to focus longer than that of a goldfish. Well, that is actually true. Our brains don’t have the ability to truly focus for very long. But yet almost anyone who comes to a coach for assistance says, oh, I want more focus. I wanna be able to, you know, get more done. Luckily, there are tools available to help you focus when trying to grow in your career.

The Power of Yawning 

“I want more productivity,” many of us say to ourselves. What we know from studying the science of the brain is that one of the things that allows us to be more focused is – believe it or not – a really good yawn. A slow yawn and a slow stretch helps us cool down our overheating brains. This gives us a chance to reset. So if you’re one of those people who’s been suppressing your yawns, you might want to rethink that tactic. Check it out for yourself, practice, see how you do. So, if you’re in that time when you’re pretty sure your brain’s not as focused as you want it to be, do three exaggerated, drawn out yawns with a stretch. How does this help you move forward on a project? 

Navigating Inner Chatter When Resume Writing

One of the things we all struggle with when we’re working on a resume is all of that inner chatter. The noise in our head that keeps us from focusing. It distracts us, and we don’t like to “meet” ourselves on paper if you will. It can feel especially difficult when we’re writing our resume accomplishment bullets. It’s challenging. Resume writing is seriously one of the most difficult parts of the job campaign process. And what I’d like you to hear is “we get it.” Even though it may be a challenge we still need to be intentional

Yes, resume writing is hard and we may never want to focus as we write one. But there is a free or fairly inexpensive way to make it go by faster. I love using the program Teal to help write effective resumes fast. You still have to focus to get the job done, but Teal makes the job go by faster. Through this software you can more quickly create resumes that are tailored to each job you apply to without reinventing the wheel.

The Myth of Endless Focus 

We can’t sit down and focus intensively for hours on end. We aren’t robots. It’s just not something our brains do, but we can sit down and focus fairly intensively for 20 minutes. I was working with one of my clients recently and we were talking about the challenge of being able to focus and to stay on task. The first thing I want you to know is if you’re in that moment where you’re working on your resume and it doesn’t feel good: that’s ok. Trust your gut.

Naturally, we want to feel better. So we invest in ourselves and do things to distract ourselves. We follow that rabbit or that squirrel or that bright, bright shiny object. We pause to do other things like the dishes or the laundry or we’ve got to vacuum or take the dog for a walk. 

If this sounds like you, then a focus tool that will be really helpful is the Pomodoro method. In order to get the task done and really move forward, you have to focus. The Pomodoro method will help you do that effectively.

The Pomodoro Method: A Mindful Tool to Grow Your Career

Essentially, it’s an online timer. You could also do this on your own. The gist of it is that you set the timer for approximately 20-25 minutes, which is really the length of time that we can truly commit to focusing. Say to yourself, “ok, I am working on this for 25 minutes and I’m focused and going to be very intentional about getting as much done in 25 minutes as I can.”

And so for 25 minutes, when you find yourself itching to go do dishes, or be distracted, stick with what you’re doing and keep moving forward on your resume or job search tasks. Because when that timer goes off, it will be time for a break. For example, if you’re building accomplishment bullets when the timer goes off, that’s when you take a minute break and you can get up, move around, stretch a little bit, do all those things that allow you to reset. Then come back and you set the timer again. Go after it again for another 25 minutes and then you take a brief break (only a few minutes). What can you do in a few minutes? Close your eyes and meditate? Stand and stretch? Simply get up and pat your dog? Pick up something or file things. Then you come back and you focus for another 25 minutes. At the point that you’ve accomplished approximately 50 minutes of focus time, then you can take a longer break. You can go get a drink of water, refresh your coffee, whatever you need to do.

Putting the Pomodoro Method in Action

You can take a longer break, which again allows your body to reset. Sometimes being physical helps. So go for a quick walk around the neighborhood or check out your backyard, especially if you’ve got a garden this time of year. Invest in yourself for a little longer break, but again, do not get so distracted that you’re completely away from your task at hand. When you’re done, come back and invest in another hour based on those 25 minute increments.

Using one or even all of these tools, I would bet you’ll find that you have significantly better results thanks to committing to the process. We’re leaning into how our brains work, how we are built as humans. Recognizing that a job campaign is emotional work. We don’t like emotional work because we want to feel better and that type of work can be hard. But narrowing your opportunity to be distracted and to continue with focus is really what counts. So next time you’re working on a resume or cover letter, look at one of the tools in this article and see if yawning, TealHQ, or the Pomodoro method will help you to focus on your job search.