Over a month ago, while getting back into my dissertation writing, a friend of mine told me about the Pomodoro Technique, and since I've started implemented it into my daily goings on, I have seen an increase in my productivity in many areas, specifically my writing and my workouts.
For those not in the know, "The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as 'pomodori,' the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for "tomato" ("Pomodoro Technique").
Image from Wikipedia
There are five basic principles to the pomodoro technique:
- Pick a project you'd like to work on.
- Set your pomodoro to a certain amount of minutes. Traditionally, this is 25 minutes; however, you can set this amount to whatever you like.
- Work on your project until the time elapses and then record the interval.
- Take a break. Traditionally, the break is five minutes; however, you can set this amount, too.
- For every four pomodoro intervals you do in a row, take a longer break. ("Pomodoro Technique")
When I am at my computer, I use Tomato Timer to pomodoro. It's preset for a 25-minute pomodoro session and short (five minutes) and long (ten minutes) breaks.
On my tablet and phone, I use Pomodoro Timer Pro (if you use iPhone or iPad, you can go here or here to check out apps).
With this app, I can add a task and the expected amount of pomodoros I will need to do to complete a task.
I can tweak settings for sounds and for lengths of my short and long breaks.
I can keep a running tab of tasks, those that are completed and those left to complete; I can also see how many pomodoros I have done for each task.
In the first week I used the pomodoro technique, I was able to finish writing my latest dissertation chapter, adding about 7,000 words to the chapter as well as organizing material for the next chapter.
I have also used the technique to write a few short stories, and there is something about that time factor that works great as an accountability partner for me, and I feel more driven to work faster.
But it also allows me to work SMARTER.
Often, I will sit, for HOURS in front of my computer as I work on a particular project. During that time, my body gets stiff, other tasks get placed on the back burner, and I'm left tired after working on that one task.
The pomodoro technique helps me to non-linearly work with various tasks. I'm not so focused on thinking I must complete ONE task before moving on to the next. For example, I pomodoro on a project, and then on my break, I go wash some dishes or I workout, or I make phone calls, or I meditate and pray, or I do something else short on my to-do list.
I have really gotten into the habit of writing/editing and exercising during a pomodoro interval.
I will write/edit for 45 minutes and workout for 15 minutes. In four hours, I have completed an hour of exercise (over the course of four hours so it keeps the body nice and warm and limber) and three hours of writing/editing, and though that may not seem like a lot of time, it's surprising how much more you actually get done when using the technique.
Since I've started using this technique, I find myself thinking more in increments when it comes to to-dos, and I find myself wanting to do most of my tasks using the technique. For example, when I clean the house, I pomodoro, cleaning for 25 minutes, and checking email or doing something else small with my 5-minute break.
For writers, it can be a hassle trying to find the time to write; in fact, this is one of the biggest whines from writers. I know I whine a lot about it. But for me, the Pomodoro Technique seems to be one that caters to my need for accountability (in some form), my need for variety (in tasks completed), and my need for efficiency (work smarter, not harder).
If you haven't checked out the technique, I would urge you to do so. It's always good to look into other ways to be more productive.
What techniques do you use to write more efficiently?
|Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator, whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her author website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment.|