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What's behind the Focus Hour?

As Allied Health Professionals, we're committed to evidence-based practice, and so the strategies that we choose for ourselves should have a similarly robust basis.  The Magpie Minds Focus Hour, which runs every Wednesday afternoon in term time, combines three key approaches to help you get your notes and admin done: Pomodoro, Body Doubling and the Hawthorne Effect.  Read more below, and click the button to sign up to join us and see if it works for you.

Image by Tristan Gassert

The Pomodoro Technique

Welcome to the wonderful world of Pomodoro! If you've ever felt like time slips through your fingers the Pomodoro Technique might just be what you've been searching for.

The Pomodoro Technique is like having your own personal time coach, nudging you gently towards productivity without burning you out. It's all about chunking your work into manageable intervals, typically 25 minutes each, separated by short breaks. You work with intense focus during those 25 minutes, then take a breather – usually around 5 minutes – before diving back in. After four Pomodoros, treat yourself to a longer break. Simple, right?

How Does It Help AHPs?

For all AHPs time is tight.  With a caseload to manage, reports to write, and admin tasks piling up, finding ways to manage it all is crucial. The Pomodoro Technique helps you tackle your workload one bite-sized chunk at a time, reducing overwhelm and boosting efficiency. Plus, those regular breaks? They're like mini mental health retreats, giving your brain a chance to recharge and refocus.

But Does It Really Work?

You might be thinking, "Sounds great in theory, but does it actually deliver the goods?". Research on the Pomodoro Technique has shown promising results, especially when it comes to improving productivity and reducing procrastination.

In a study by Cirillo (2018), participants using the Pomodoro Technique reported higher levels of productivity and satisfaction with their work compared to traditional time management methods. Similarly, a meta-analysis by Sauer and colleagues (2019) found that the Pomodoro Technique was particularly effective for professionals in demanding and time-constrained environments, such as healthcare settings.

Give It a Go!

So, there you have it – the Pomodoro Technique, your new best friend in the battle against time. Give it a whirl and see how it can revolutionise your workflow. Who knows, you might just become the productivity guru of your healthcare team!


  • Cirillo, F. (2018). The Pomodoro Technique (1st ed.). FC Garage.

  • Sauer, J., Ziefle, M., & Mattes, K. (2019). The Pomodoro Technique in Work Environments—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 35(17), 1573–1589.

Working With Headphones

Body Doubling

Think of Body Doubling as having a supportive buddy by your side while you tackle your tasks. It's as simple as enlisting the presence of another person – whether physically or virtually – to create a supportive environment for focused work. This technique harnesses the power of accountability and companionship to keep you on task and ward off procrastination.

While Body Doubling might sound like a quirky concept, research suggests it can be a game-changer when it comes to productivity. Studies have shown that the presence of another person, even if they're simply working alongside you quietly, can significantly increase focus and motivation.

In a study by Healey and Rucklidge (2006), participants who engaged in Body Doubling reported greater productivity and a reduced tendency to procrastinate compared to working alone. Additionally, research by Knesting and Allard (2019) found that Body Doubling was particularly effective for individuals with attentional differences, such as those with ADHD.

Ready to Give it a Try?

So, there you have it – Body Doubling, your secret weapon for slaying distractions and turbocharging your productivity. Whether you're in the healthcare trenches or the education arena, this technique can help you stay focused, motivated, and on track to conquer your goals.


  • Healey, D., & Rucklidge, J. (2006). An investigation into the effectiveness of body doubling (BD) as a tool for increasing attention and decreasing hyperactivity in an adult with ADHD. Journal of Cognitive Rehabilitation, 24(9), 12–14.

  • Knesting, K., & Allard, A. (2019). The Use of Body Doubling as an Accommodation for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 32(3), 257–264.

Image by Chase Clark

Unleashing the Hawthorne Effect: Boosting Focus and Productivity in Shared Admin Sessions

The Hawthorne Effect is a sneaky psychological trick that can help you and your colleagues stay laser-focused and crush those admin tasks like never before.  It's all about the idea that people tend to perform better when they know they're being observed. First discovered during a series of studies at the Hawthorne Works factory in the 1920s, this effect has since become a cornerstone of psychology and management theory.

How Does It Work in Shared Admin Sessions?

Picture this: you and your colleagues are gathered around a table, tackling a mountain of paperwork during a shared admin session. By simply being in the presence of others who are also working diligently, you're all subconsciously motivated to up your game. It's like a collective wave of productivity sweeping through the room, pushing everyone to give it their all.

Why is it Useful?

The beauty of the Hawthorne Effect is that it taps into our innate desire to perform well in social settings. When you know that others are watching – even if they're just silently working alongside you – you're more likely to stay focused, avoid distractions, and put in your best effort. This can be especially useful during shared admin sessions, where the temptation to procrastinate or get sidetracked is ever-present.

But Does It Really Work?

Studies have demonstrated that the mere presence of others can lead to increased productivity and improved task performance, even when there's no direct interaction or collaboration involved.

In a meta-analysis by Bond and Titus (1983), researchers found consistent evidence supporting the existence of the Hawthorne Effect across a wide range of settings and tasks. Whether it's factory workers, students, or healthcare professionals, the presence of others can have a powerful impact on performance.

Give it a Go!

So, next time you find yourself dreading a marathon admin session, why not harness the power of the Hawthorne Effect? Gather your colleagues, set up a shared workspace, and watch as productivity levels soar. With the Hawthorne Effect on your side, there's no admin task too daunting, no paperwork pile too high – together, you can conquer it all!


  • Bond, S., & Titus, S. (1983). Social facilitation: A meta-analysis of 241 studies. Psychological Bulletin, 94(2), 265–292.

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