FRIDAY FX: Carving Out Some Time

With only 24 hours in a day, and a handful of those where you’re hopefully sleeping restfully, how well and wisely do you spend your time?

I watched a webinar recently and was reminded of something called the Pomodoro Technique. Of course, my first thought goes to food and how I could go for a nice angel hair pomodoro right now, but I digress. This post is about focus and productivity. This is a perfect example of how easy we can lose track of time, time we can’t get back, whether we have access to a TARDIS, or not.

Where did this idea come from?

Back in the late 1980s, Francesco Cirillo was working the grind as a university student. Just the thought of going back to a time where my love for learning was weighed down by the pressure of successful evaluations thereof makes me queasy. Cirillo also felt overwhelmed but figured he could at least try honing in on ten solid minutes of studying.

Why a tomato (which is pomodoro in Italian)?

He wanted to time himself. Decades before the era of “your phone can do almost anything,” he didn’t have a timer handy so he found a kitchen timer which happened to be in the shape of a, you guessed it, the beloved fruit. Yes, it’s a fruit. It has seeds. Fight me on this.

So what is this technique all about?

Cirillo fine tuned the process and the Pomodoro Technique was born. He shared it with the world, and has created a bit of a productivity empire from this simple, yet effective method of time management.

I take a look at this and I say to myself, Self? You can do this. It seems like a reasonable concept and isn’t asking for a blood oath or anything, so I decide to give it a whirl.

A girl could’ve been that Basic B and just used the iPhone timer, but noooo, I’m THAT B and looked up some apps in the App Store. I settled on two and, as I write this, I’m in my second Pomodoro using the second app I downloaded. I did a quick glance of the features and this one appealed to me more. I might try the other one tomorrow and to a comparison review. The app I’ll briefly discuss today is aptly named, Pomodoro. It’s labelled as a Pomodoro Timer & White Noise. I’m currently using the free features. I’ll post a review of the app after I’ve used it for a while.

Here’s an example of how I’m using the app:

  • 25 mins of dedicated research
  • 5 mins break
  • 25 mins of dedicated writing
  • 5 mins break
  • 25 mins of dedicated writing
  • 5 mins break
  • 25 mins of dedicated writing
  • 15 mins break

When I draft a blog post, I’m often writing and looking for images online. Every minute I’m not writing is a minute closer to the upload deadline. By organizing my tasks in manageable segments, I’m able to focus on the content. What’s great about this method is that you can tailor it to whatever you need to do. You can have more pomodoros, which are the focused blocks, less, longer or shorter pomodoros, and longer or shorter break times. It’s flexible so that if you’re hesitant to try it, you can ease into the technique and once you’re comfortable, you can increase the duration, as needed.

These focused blocks can be about whatever you want. For instance, if I’m working on my WIP, I can use the pomodoros for writing sprints. So for those tasks, they can be changed to 15 mins or 1 hour, depending on how you like to sprint.

I also plan on taking a scene and using each pomodoro to write it from a different POV and tense, or any combo thereof, as it pertains to my story. There are so many different ways you can use the app, and I’m digging it so far.

Use the breaks to reward yourself. Having a little snack near you. Take a stretch. The Pomodoro Technique also promotes health and wellness while on the writing journey. Not to mention the computer voice telling you it’s time for a break, or it’s time to get back to it. You end up feeling more motivated, and at the end of it all, you’ll really have accomplished more than if you approached this in a more scattered manner.

So, when we decide to carve out time for the things important to us, we do it because there are only so many hours in the day and a kazillion things to do, right? It’s interesting when people say that they need to take a break, get away and have some “me time.” What I’ve noticed is that all the time you carve out in a day, whether it’s to be productive, to play with the kids, to veg out in front of a good movie or book, that’s ALL me time. Every decision you make in terms of productivity is going to have a profound effect on your life, so if you think of it that way, you’ll value how you use your time a lot more. Eh, but what do I know from this technique anyway? Everyone’s got their own way of doing things. ToMAYto, toMAHto.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. I’m the first to agree that there are some days when laying in bed for thirteen hours is exactly what you need. So, you do you. Just know that there are things that you can do to make that time go by more effectively. Whatever you’re doing after reading this post, I thank you, and I hope it’s time well spent.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

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