March 17, 2014

Pomodoro Technique

Posted in Job Success at 5:03 pm by melissaautumn

This week I’m intrigued by the Pomodoro Technique.

One of the things I struggle with while working at home is staying focused on a task. It is easy to jump between paid work, volunteer work, and writing since they all inhabit the same desk space or to be distracted by tasks around the house (case in point, I just got up to stop the dog from ripping another hole in her bed). I’m also easily distracted by incoming email, Facebook, and online news sites.

In the true Pomodoro Technique, you are supposed to work on one thing for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break, then move on to another project. The idea is that working for a limited amount of time helps you focus, if for no other reason than the satisfaction of crossing an item off your list before being forced to stop, and frequent breaks keep your brain rested and fresh.

I’m taking liberties with the Pomodoro format. First, I’m working in 30 minute chunks. It matches my 30 minutes a day of writing and appeals to me as nice, round number. I’m also open to shorter periods of time for smaller tasks or when time is limited. Today I had only a bit of time between teaching class and a school pick up, so I challenged myself to spend 15 minutes doing “annoying” tasks – things I’d procrastinated doing, but that I wanted to get off my to-do list. And it worked! Instead of frittering away time like I usually do after class, I knocked out three little things that were nagging at me.

Second, I’m not so good at the 5 minute break. I’ve been using the break to do other tasks around the house, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 10. What I am trying to do is get up from the computer after a 30 minute task or consciously switch to another task so that I don’t get distracted and fritter away time.

Third, I may have been convinced to turn the Pomodoro Technique into a competitive sport. My writing partner is a fan of Pomodoro and so this week, we are supposed to email a report anytime we’ve successfully completed a Pomodoro. I call it developing self-awareness and being accountable, she calls it a friendly competition.

And I admit, I don’t have a little tomato shaped timer. The computer clock works perfectly well for me.

March 8, 2014

Day 2: Suck It, Shoulder

Posted in Writing at 5:42 pm by melissaautumn

Woot! I accomplished 35 minutes of writing yesterday and took a step forward on a big book project.

This was a nice contrast to the mixed emotions I have about my shoulder, which could be summed up as the good (I’m getting PT earlier than last time, Aleve is helping with the pain, I still have good range of motion, and all things considered, life could be worse)¬† versus the bad (I can tell this is going to be an uphill battle with me and my PT on one side and my shoulder on the other). I’ve had a pretty relaxed attitude about my shoulder for the last month as I felt the “freezing” begin (my mantra, “it is what it is”), but yesterday I struggled with a creeping sense of discouragement.

Meeting my daily writing goal became something I could control and then a tangible accomplishment in a day that started with frustration. I appreciate how simple the goal is – write for 30 minutes, period. I don’t need to finish a chapter, I just need to write for 30 minutes. This, I can do.

If you are interested in the 30 minutes a day idea, here are two resources:

March 7, 2014

30 Minutes for 30 Days

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 2:46 pm by melissaautumn

I’m working on two books at the moment, neither of which is moving very fast. My usual mode of writing has been to set aside a few substantial chunks of time each week, allowing me to really dig into what I’m doing. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been working as well as it did in the past, in part because of the difficulty of finding those chunks of time in my schedule.

Inspired by my writing partner (She Who Keeps Me On Track), I’m going to try the “30 minutes a day” approach. The goal isn’t to produce great work everyday, but to build the habit of writing regularly. As part of that, I realized how much I enjoy writing for “fun.” I occasionally write¬†Ares the Beta Fish, but it is self-limiting since I need to borrow the neighbor’s beta fish to blog on his behalf. I just took over Loki the Frog and in addition to being fun, it is pushing me to write consistently and to craft my actual words and sentences carefully. As part of writing 30 minutes a day, I’d like to use that blog and this one as warm-up exercises.

The 30 days seems like an appropriate amount of time to commit to building a new habit. It also coincides nicely with my physical therapist suggesting I try anti-inflammatories for 30 days to combat a worsening frozen shoulder. So, there you go – I’ll be popping the pills and gluing myself to the computer for the next month. Let’s hope that by this time in April, I’ll have at least a partial book, if not a pain-free shoulder.