After being at home for months during a global pandemic, it’s not surprising that people are looking for ways to connect with other individuals, especially when it comes to working. The desire for greater connection is also a reality for most entrepreneurs even before the pandemic. Many often feel isolated from the world as they grind away at achieving their dreams, and although wishing to be back in the office is a dream for some, others simply want some company as they work from time to time. This is one of the reasons group focus sessions have gained popularity online.
I recently joined a fantastic group of female entrepreneurs for Saturday group focus sessions. I must admit that I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy this at the start. However, these focus sessions became something that I eagerly looked forward to taking part in. They tremendously boosted my productivity and had significantly impacted my progress toward achieving key goals. Procrastination was no longer an issue once I figured out all that these sessions could offer.
I am getting carried away. I’m sure you may want to know what a group focus session actually is and how it’s set up. Let me slow down and fill you in…
What is a group focus session?
A group focus session is an opportunity for individuals to meet up and support one another through the process of performing deep work. In this remote work climate these sessions are now taking place most often online. They can be formal or informal, and the structure can vary. It is all up to the organizers.
The concept of deep work is based on the similarly named book by the acclaimed author Cal Newport. In his Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller, he introduced the concept of deep work as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. Group focus sessions aim to create a supported environment that uses this unique concept to inspire focused effort that allows you to tackle significant projects, completing them with higher quality and in less time.
How to Create Your Own Group Focus Session Online
First things first… You need a group.
When creating your group for the focus session, I recommend finding people on a similar productivity mission. If you only choose people based on how much you enjoy their company, you will likely find that your conversations may lead to a distraction. This will limit your productivity because there is not a joint mission or common goal. Instead, try to find individuals to work with that are also looking to tackle major tasks and projects. These are the people who want to accomplish clear goals during your time together and would be a better fit for your group’s mission.
Now, if you don’t have anyone in mind don’t let that stop you. It may just be that the people you know are working on different goals at the time or unable to spare the extra hours. For this reason, among others, you can find many groups popping up online. Reach out to others in similar circles. Don’t hesitate to check your Facebook or Mighty Networks groups for willing participants. Remember, you are looking for individuals with a common work goal not your next bestfriend. They can have a different background or be working on completely different projects in vastly different industries. Are they looking for support to get some major things accomplished? If so, that’s your person.
Once you have identified participants for your group focus session, you need to choose a date, time, and platform. There are multiple options for a platform. Options like Zoom, Google Meets, and GoToWebinar are all practical tools for setting up your meetings. You could even use your cellphone if all else fails. Whatever you can use to bring everyone together on a particular date and time, preferably with video, will work.
What should you do during your group focus session?
There is NO formal rule as to how you must structure your group focus session. However, I recommend starting your session by sharing the project you will be working on and the goals you have for your time together. This gives everyone an idea of the types of projects they will be supporting in this group environment, and verbalizing your plan adds a level of accountability that will serve as motivation.
Next, establish how you will break up your time together. This will determine the length of your intervals or sprints. You can start with the Pomodoro technique. This method uses 25-minute Pomodoro sprints of uninterrupted focus with 5-minute breaks. For those that want more uninterrupted time, you can opt to use 45-minute sprints instead. This will largely be determined by how long you plan to meet.
In our Saturday sessions we spend about 3-hours together online.
Breaks are not just for grabbing coffee, but this is also where more magic happens. You can use that time to check in with one another regarding the progress you have made. It’s a great time to get an opinion on something you may have prepared or gain another viewpoint. This is another benefit of having a group environment. And, if you run a bit over the 5 minutes, it’s ok. It’s your group anyway. Add a few minutes to your timer and get ready for your next sprint to begin.
How group focus sessions boosted my productivity
There are several benefits of group focus sessions. The main one is that I saw my productivity skyrocket. And, it wasn’t just me. It was every individual in my group. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Working with others motivated me to follow through.
The energy alone from working in this group was motivation to get more work done. Knowing that other people were actively taking on major projects and complex tasks helped erase any procrastination inkling I may have felt headed into the day. I felt motivated to support them through the process as they were serving as a support for me. We all had a purpose… to see each other to the end of this process successfully.
2. Sharing my plans for the session with the group focused my effort.
Being open and transparent about the work I had planned set a level of accountability for how I used my time. Despite it being a group session, there is still the opportunity for distraction. The desire not to return at the break without making progress towards my goal lit a fire that fueled me in those focused moments. I wanted to feel proud of what I had managed to complete during our sprint. I found that this simple declaration at the start of our work created a laser-focused desire to complete my tasks.
3. Seeing the accomplishment of others reinforced how beneficial this time could be for my success.
At the end of our time together, we all shared the amazing progress we had made. It felt good to celebrate multiple wins and know that what we had accomplished in a short time frame would make such a significant impact on our daily lives. I had completed not just one but two of my major projects, exceeding my own expectations. The benefit of this time could not be denied. We each walked away with a desire to do it all again.
Have you tried group focus sessions? I would love to hear your experience in the comments.