The Best Approach to Deep Focus Work Sessions for Getting Sh*t Done

Mitch Malone
3 min readMay 15, 2024

It can be incredibly difficult some days to find focus time. Even worse is when you find the focus time and you aren’t able to use it effectively. Inversely nothing beats blocking out a few hours in your schedule and crushing a days worth of work as you focus deeply on the right tasks.

Enter the Cinema Method — a fool proof and battle worn approach to achieving deep focus by emulating the undisturbed environment of a cinema.

Deep Focus Workstation

The Concept Behind the Cinema Method

Imagine sitting in a cinema. The lights are dimmed, your phone is on silent, and you’re completely absorbed in the movie. The outside world fades away, leaving you with an uninterrupted experience. The Cinema Method leverages this same principle to create an ideal workspace where distractions are minimized, allowing for a state of deep, productive focus.

How to Implement the Cinema Method

The best thing about the cinema method is how simple to implement it is, but it should be noted that in order for the method to work at it’s best you need all of the elements to be in their right place.

Preparation is Key

Prior to deep focus sessions it’s critical to step away for a moment and ensure you’ve prepared for engaging in deep work for as long as you’re able. The cinema method works best when you intend to focus for at least a couple of hours at a time.

  1. Snack Time: Before diving into your work, ensure you’ve had a healthy snack. A satisfied stomach means one less distraction. Opt for something that provides sustained energy, like nuts, fruit, or a whole-grain snack.
  2. Hydration Station: Keep a glass of water or a cup of coffee within reach. Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining focus and energy levels.
  3. Bathroom Break: Take a quick bathroom break to ensure you won’t need to interrupt your focus later.

Set the Stage

  • Silent Mode: Just like in a cinema, put your phone on silent or Do Not Disturb mode. Better yet, place it out of reach.
  • Clear the Clutter: A tidy workspace is a productive workspace. Clear off unnecessary items from your desk to reduce visual distractions.
  • Ambient Environment: Adjust your lighting to a comfortable level. Consider using noise-canceling headphones or playing instrumental music to block out background noise. A tip for finding music appropriate for focus is to search Spotify or YouTube for the word “lofi” combined with whatever music I am in the mood for.

Focus Strategies

Don’t wing-it when it comes to deep focus. These sessions are best achieved with intentional outcomes in mind. It’s not enough to sit down and focus deeply on just anything, deep focus sessions should be directed at a specific set of outcomes.

Some simple strategies exist for deciding how to use your focus time wisely.

  • Time Blocking: Dedicate a specific block of time to work on a single task. The Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break, can be highly effective.
  • Task Prioritization: Before starting, list the tasks you need to accomplish. Prioritize them and tackle the most important ones first.
  • Mindful Breaks: Just like movies have intermissions, schedule short breaks to stretch, walk around, or simply relax. This helps maintain productivity over longer periods.

Benefits of the Cinema Method

  • Enhanced Productivity: By minimizing distractions, you can achieve a state of deep work, leading to higher quality and quantity of output.
  • Reduced Stress: A structured approach to work can reduce the stress associated with constant interruptions and multitasking.
  • Improved Focus: Over time, training your brain to focus deeply can improve your overall concentration and cognitive abilities.

Conclusion

The Cinema Method is a simple yet powerful strategy to transform your work habits and boost your productivity. By preparing yourself and your environment for deep focus, you can create a workspace that rivals the undisturbed experience of a cinema. So, next time you need to buckle down and get things done, remember to go full cinema mode. Your to-do list will thank you!

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Mitch Malone

Product and engineering leader (prev. CTO @ Linktree, Head of Eng @ BlueChilli). Nomad, remote worker, writer, photographer.