How to Sharpen Your Focus


For those of us who regularly lose focus, fail to finish or fail to start, Robert Genn, a master artist, a  creative writer and a man of great wisdom, recommends the Pomodoro Technique.  While Robert Genn’s audience is visual artists, his Pomodoro approach works equally as well when using writing as a means of self-improvement.

“Lately I’ve become aware that some of my friends are losing their marbles. Their ability to concentrate has gone up the spout. They’re so overwhelmed with distractions and daily impedimenta that I hardly recognize them anymore. Too busy to paint, they are harnessed to a downward creative spiral. I was even losing a few marbles myself–so I deflected my problems by spying on their studio habits.

You could blame telephones, computers, smart-meters, cell-phone towers, and technology in general for our lack of focus, but that’s not the whole problem. A chronic lack of “intention” is ravaging (…art ) studios. And, you guessed it, there’s a remarkably simple, low-tech solution…a ‘pomodor’ kitchen timer

Just as people learn to spell words and add numbers, folks can learn how to gain intention. It takes a bit of character and a Pomodoro. A Pomodoro is one of those red kitchen timers that looks like a tomato. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. You can buy them on Amazon for $7.99. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The timer is set for 25 minutes and then you focus and go to work on your predetermined job. At the end of the time period, the alarm goes off and you take a five minute break. Then you start on your next Pomodoro. If your Pomodoro gets interrupted by a phone call or a request to go down and drain the lake, you’ll have to stop and restart your Pomodoro later.

To rise and become a “Certified Pomodoro Master” you need to determine how many 25-minute segments you’re going to need to do a particular project–say a 20″ x 24″ painting. You need a notepad and pen to list and keep track of your staged Pomodoros. Give yourself a check mark at the completion of each.”

To regularly tap into Robert Genn’s wisdom on creativity, you can follow him at