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.

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