Can the Pomodoro Technique Help You Get More Done?

Can the Pomodoro Technique Help You Get More Done?

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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Can Mark Forster’s Do it Tomorrow Help You Get More Done?

Can Mark Forster’s Do it Tomorrow Help You Get More Done?

Do it Tomorrow

This is Week 8 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested the principles of Mark Forster’s book, Do It Tomorrow. Specifically, I declared a backlog of all former tasks which I then spent the first part of each work day on. The majority of other tasks were accomplished the following day from when they came in. Scroll to the end of last week’s post for more information about my test week. 

How Do it Tomorrow Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me accomplish more routine tasks. I did more of my planned routines this week than I did when I was specifically testing routines! The book really reignited my vision for why I have routines in the first place. I developed them to address specific problems I’ve identified. Not doing them means I have more hassles.
  • Gave me the satisfaction of being done for the day. I can’t say enough about the feeling of doing everything I should and being able to call it a night. Not only that, but I knew I had done more than a few easy one-off tasks. I was working on a variety of things that made me feel reliable and that I was progressing on my goals. I was also motivated to finish tasks because I knew if I didn’t, they’d be on the list again tomorrow.
  • Relieved stress over undone tasks. Declaring a backlog gave me immediate piece of mind and the belief that I really could be on top of my work. Can’t remember feeling that way since I was in college and the terror of failing had me working ahead on assignments.

How Do it Tomorrow Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Having two scheduled days in a row put me behind. My two busy days with little time for tasks made my perfectionism kick in. I was demotivated because I had failed to do a day’s work. I forgot what Mark Forster’s admonition was for situations like this. First, just do what you can and catch up on the proceeding days. If necessary, non-urgent tasks can also be scheduled across several days.
  • I had to think about my commitments. In order to do everything I want to do, I have to stay really, really busy. I really don’t like to admit that some of my interests will have to go if I want to get a day’s work done.

Did Do it Tomorrow Help Me Get More Done?

Without a doubt. I couldn’t be more delighted and I am unwilling to give it up this week! I will say that I’ve had more energy this week than I’ve had in a long time, but the philosophy resonates with me and that energizes me, too.

**UPDATE**

Surprisingly, I don’t use Do it Tomorrow anymore. I eventually found that it didn’t make sense to tackle every incoming task tomorrow, even though it was nice to get a head start on a lot of projects. The problem for me is that when it rains, it pours. Tasks tend to get processed in bulk on an open day that is followed by a busy day. Now, I schedule tasks for certain days of the week to batch them. I pay bills on Mondays. I manage blog tasks on Tuesdays, and so on. If I can’t get to something, it gets pushed to the following day or week, depending on the task and its deadline.

pomodoro-technique

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 9

If you’ve not heard of the Pomodoro technique, you haven’t been reading anything about productivity. But even if you’re into productivity hacks like I am, you may not be familiar with the whole approach.

The concept. I knew that Pomodoro meant working for a set period of time and taking a break. That’s all I thought it was. A Pomodoro is a 25-minute work period followed by a 3-5 minute break. After four Pomodoros, a 15-30 minute break should be taken.

The information that was new to me is that tasks to be done for the day (listed in order of importance) should be recorded and the number of Pomodoros required should be estimated. (Tasks should be grouped so they will take at least 25 minutes). Each completed Pomodoro for that task should be indicated with an X. Interrupted Pomodoros don’t count.

The Pomodoro Technique should be an excellent complement to Do it Tomorrow. Just as in Do it Tomorrow, Pomodoro requires same-day urgent tasks to be written below the line of tasks that were planned. I plan to use a paper planner and the Promodoro timer app on my iPhone to track my Pomodoros.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read about the Pomodoro Technique in the free PDF or watch the video. Decide if you will use the paper recording forms, an online tracker, or an app. Plan your tasks and estimate the number of Promodoros or just work according to the 25-5 x 4 + 15-30 minute break schedule.

To see how my test with Pomodoros went, click here.

If you’ve tried Do it Tomorrow 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

 

read more

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