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Hey there and a very Happy New Year to you if I haven’t had a chance to say it before!

We’re coming to the end of the holiday period (back to school Tuesday) and so I organised for my daughter’s class to meet up at the gorgeous Natural History Museum skating rink where a good time and lots of hot chocolate was had by all.

My pic is of just how gorgeous it looked as dusk fell and the lights on the carousel rivalled those on the Christmas tree in the centre of the rink.

I know that I also have that ‘back to school’ feeling as do, I suspect, many of you…not because I’m dreading the weeks ahead but due to that natural desire at this time of year to start some things afresh.

I also know the dangers of New Year resolutions which, in my experience, trip you up because they inevitably don’t last. Far better to make realistic plans that last for a chunk of time – perhaps 12 weeks as suggested in a new book on the subject – and then re-evaluate or make new ones.

One thing that is absolutely necessary to successful change is focus…and so in this Weekend Takeaways I’m giving you some free resources to help you develop laser-like focus this year.

That way, you’ll get loads more done while evading expensive distractions…therefore making a lot more money!

Let’s start with the Focus Booster app which is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, a time management system where you focus on a single task for 25 minutes and then give yourself a 5-minute break.

Available for Macs and PCs, Focus Booster is like a combination of a to-do list and a time-management coach, allowing you to list out your daily tasks and then tracking your time as you work your way through them. When 25 minutes are up, an alarm sounds and you get a break.

Get it here:

FocusWriter is an excellent free tool that provides you with a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages:

Some alternatives to FocusWriter include:

CreaWriter is a Windows writing tool that provides you with a peaceful background, full-screen writing, soothing ambient sound…and that’s about it.

There’s a free and a donor version:

If you’re a Mac person then WriteRoom is a great distraction-beating writing tool and the free version is excellent:

StayFocusd is a Google Chrome extension that increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites:

If you’d like an alternative to that which is browser independent, Persistence is ‘a productivity tool that prevents you from visiting time-wasting sites by motivating and inspiring you to stay focused on your work’.

Sounds good to me!

A wonderful read is Leo Baubata’s free Focus Manifesto. Leo is the best-selling author of The Power of Less and this thought-provoking read might well change your life or, at the very least, your working habits.

Download it here:

For your Kindle freebie this week, a great little book on working smarter not harder…something more focus will help you achieve:

And for your TED talk what could be more appropriate than Richard St John on the importance of focus (this one comes from TED Ed):

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