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pomodoro-technique

This is Week 9 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested the Pomodoro Technique by planning my tasks in order of importance, estimating how many Pomodoros each would take, and then working for 25-minute periods followed by 5-minute breaks. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post to read more. 

How the Pomodoro Technique Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me think about what I wanted to accomplish. At least it did for the ONE day that I used the technique completely as written in the free PDF. I liked having a plan for the day. I felt a sense of peace in knowing that the must-do tasks were on my list in order of importance.
  • Helped me keep internal distractions under control. Knowing that I could do what I wanted after a solid period of work helped me not to give in to the temptation to web surf before doing what needed done.

How the Pomodoro Technique Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Breaks too short. Five minutes wasn’t enough to do anything satisfying. I think this would be perfect for a traditional desk job, however.
  • Rigid rules. If a Pomodoro ends early, you’re supposed to review your work until the timer goes off. Really? I decided to take a longer break. If you get interrupted, you’re supposed to start the timer over. Again, really? In a house with six kids and a husband? I’d work all day and get no Pomodoro credit. I also really hated having to work each task to completion in order, rather than having the choice to do a little in whatever order as I did with DIT.
  • Confusing record keeping. I estimated the number of Pomodoros each task would require, then realized I could knock out two tasks simultaneously. I found myself moving back and forth between the two tasks. How many Pomodoros should each get? I had no idea.

Did the Pomodoro Technique Help Me Get More Done?

Yes and no. Using the technique as written helped me focus for several hours and then I was ready to scream because of the arbitrary nature of it. Using a 50-minute work period followed by a ten-minute break works beautifully for me, however. If I am not rigid about it and I ignore every other aspect of the technique, it works for me.

**UPDATE**

I rarely set a timer these days for work, because I am using time blocking instead. If I had to tackle something really unappealing, I would definitely rely on it, but I have been motivated in my work for quite some time. I do think it’s a great approach.

Time Warrior book

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 10

This week I’ll be using the principles of Time Warrior by Steve Chandler–a cognitive approach to productivity. 

The concept. As a psychologist, I know that the way we think about productivity is much more important than how we choose to manage our tasks. Despite the book being full of New Age philosophy that is at odds with my faith, Time Warrior is also full of great advice for getting things done.

Chandler’s approach can be summarized as: do what you know you need to do now, even if that’s at odds with your thoughts and feelings.

This approach addresses the feeling of overwhelm. He writes, “You are not, in this hour we’ve chosen to look at, at all overwhelmed, are you? Not in this particular hour. But your story is that you are. You can drop that story. You can tell a different story. Try this story: ‘I’ve only got one thing to do! How liberating. It’s the thing I’m doing right now.'”

This approach eliminates mental time wasters. Chandler explains,  “To really live now there are two things I want to phase out of my life forever: (1) Resentments about the past and (2) Worries about the future. These two activities, strengthened by repeated indulgence, are like hagfish. Hagfish? Many people don’t know what hagfish are, but they are just like worries and resentments. In the real, undersea world, hagfish are blind, slimy, deepwater eel-like creatures that dart into the orifices of their prey and devour them, alive, from the inside. Kill the hagfish in your life. Then you can live now and maybe procrastinate later.”

This approach defeats procrastination. The Time Warrior argues, “The main reason people have a problem with procrastination is that they don’t see the connection between completing something and having new, fresh energy come out of that. They actually imagine that working on this thing and finishing it would drain even more of their energy and they get tired just thinking about it, so they don’t complete it…If procrastination is occurring, do the things you are procrastinating on. It’s a very simple cure and it’s the last thing people really want to do because they don’t really want to cure procrastination. They want to find some mysterious psychotic fault line in themselves that causes them to procrastinate and then try to examine that fault line (even if it takes years) rather than do the thing.”

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Stay focused on doing things now. Go to war with past resentments, future worries, or negative thinking that keeps you stuck. Write down the negative thoughts you keep returning to so you can challenge them. Try to accomplish as many things as you can to increase your energy and to put an end to your personal story that you’re a victim of procrastination. Of course, if you want more, you can pick up a copy of Time Warrior {Amazon affiliate link}.

To see how my week using the Time Warrior went, click here.
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If you’ve tried the Pomodoro Technique to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

 

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