Monday, April 19, 2010

Time Management: The Pomodoro Technique

Imagine a clock ticking. Tick, tick, tick. Somehow the sound reminds us of time bombs and deadlines. However, an ingenious author has come up with a way to take the stress out, and replace it with productivity.

In the last month, I've posted twice about time management. One technique disables your internet (temporarily), and the other gently threatens you to keep typing. Francesco Cirillo has come up with quite a simple technique, and it's working well for me.

The Pomodoro Technique is not a piece of software, it's an idea. The idea that you can make yourself do even dislikable tasks, if you only have to work for 25 minutes and have a 5-minute break to look forward to. The name comes from the timer he first used when he tried this technique: a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.

I first heard about the technique on Susanna Fraser's blog. Carillo is generous enough to give away free downloads of his ebook, which explains the idea in detail, and gives troubleshooting tips (like what to do in the case of internal and external distractions).

Coincidentally, the same week that I read Susanna Fraser's blog, I also received Randy Ingermanson's monthly writing newsletter, where he explains a very similar technique (this one uses 50-minute work blocks and 10-minute breaks). It's in the April issue. Randy has an excellent blog, and if you're not signed up for his newsletter, you might want to find out why over 20,000 other writers have done just that. Randy is also the coauthor of the wonderful Writing Fiction for Dummies book. I own an increasingly dog-eared copy.

When I tried the 50-minute work block, I found I was able to write over one thousand words before the timer went off (Randy Ingermanson shares a link to a free downloadable timer that worked well for me). If I completed only two of these "pomodoros" every day, in one month I will have completed 60,000 words. Think about what the Pomodoro Technique might do for you.

If you try it, leave a comment and share how it worked.

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like what I learned from the Flylady. She teaches you to clean your house using a timer...you only clean until the timer goes off and then you move to the next room. It's a great strategy. It works great for me but it drives my kids nuts.

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  2. I used to do Flylady, too. This technique mainly works for me because my kids see the timer on my computer screen, and it lets them know how long they need to wait before they ask me their burning questions.

    They often walk in the room, saying, "Hey mom--oh, you're on the timer. I'll come back."

    : )

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