Monday, April 12, 2010

Tick, Tick…The Pomodoro Technique Update

Post by NCW Member Jenny Sundstedt
Jenny's posts will appear every Monday


In January, I wrote a NCW blog post about my frustration with my poor time management (You Say Tomato...), and how I hoped The Pomodoro Technique would help me get a handle on all the minutes that seem to sneak away without my notice. (A quick, if oversimplified, review: the technique involves setting a timer for twenty-five minutes, working until it goes off, taking a five-minute break, and repeating the cycle.)

I’m pleased to report that The Pomodoro Technique is as easy and effective as I hoped it would be. As it turns out, I respond well to the sound of a ringing bell. In fact, I’m positively Pavlovian about it, but without the annoying drooling. The ticking of the timer did panic me at first, making me feel as if I had to account for every passing second, but now it’s merely an ambient reminder to stay on task.

Twenty-five minutes is the perfect length of time for those of us long on ambition but short on attention. I can endure any unpleasant household job for that long without feeling the need to quit halfway and self-medicate with green tea and chocolate. And yet, twenty-five uninterrupted minutes spent catching up on the news or doing a crossword puzzle feels like a true indulgence.

Though I’m trying, I don’t Pomodoro every day. Some days, interruptions and distractions abound, and I have to forego the timer for sanity’s sake. I’ve also found that the technique is not perfectly suited for every activity. I like using it when I’m e-mailing, surfing the net, paying bills, doing laundry or other chores, and alphabetizing the spices. (Okay, so I’ve never in my life done that last one, but I can dream.) It rubs me the wrong way, however, when I’m writing or when I’m reading something longer than a magazine. Frankly, I never would have made it through The Story of Edgar Sawtelle twenty-five minutes at a time.

As I’ve gotten more efficient with my time at home, I’m realizing how much of it I waste when I’m out and about. My next experiment will be Pomodoro-on-the-Go—using the technique when I leave the house.

Has anyone else tried living on Tomato Time?

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Jenny is a writer in Fort Collins who is currently looking to find an agent to represent her supernatural mystery, The Silver Web.

13 comments:

Kerrie said...
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Kerrie said...

I have not tried the Pomodoro Technique yet, but my spices are alphabetized. :-)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I had to take it one step further -- I work in my office upstairs, and I set the timer on the stove downstairs. It has a relentless reminder buzzer that won't let me ignore it for long. I get more exercise that way.

Lisa_Gibson said...

I love the Pomodoro. It will be interesting to hear how the Pomodoro-a-go-go works out. ;)

Jenny S. said...

Cinnamon, coriander, cumin...I'm up to the 'c's.

My cheap-o kitchen timer is inconsistent, so I sometimes use my stove timer as a back-up. On those days, I have the ticking and the ringing and the buzzing. All I need now is a trained rooster.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I’ve never heard of the Pomodoro Technique, but I can certainly use help in the time management area so I am going to check it out.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great idea. I sort of do this with some things, but I've never tried it out of the house. Let us know how that works out.

Cricket McRae said...

I've never heard of the Pomodoro Technique, but it sounds like a good way to compartmentalize the things on a lengthy to-do list. Some days I'll set the timer on my iphone in twenty minute increments, and then hurry to see how much I can get done in that much time. It's great for house and yard work, and I probably burn more calories rushing around like a mad woman. At least that's what I tell myself...

Hearth Cricket

carolynyalin said...

Never tried Tomato time, but it sounds like I should.

Charmaine Clancy said...

This sounds like a great technique, I'm going to give it a go - I think the ticking will be good because it will be a constant reminder of what I'm supposed to be doing right now :-)

Nate said...
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Nate Chastain said...

Jenny - I'm happy the Pomodoro Technique worked out for you. This technique is one of the first things that I incorporate into my clients' routines during my time management consulting programs, so I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who finds it incredibly useful. Great, well-wriitten post.

Do you have any other time management tips or lifehacks that you want to share? I sort of...collect them ...on my blog, www. cumalu.com. Let me know.

Jenny S. said...

It's comforting to know I'm not the only one who struggles with time management.

I like what Cricket wrote about burning more calories when rushing around like a mad woman...is The Pomodoro Workout next?

Nate's blog has a great post about The Pomodoro Technique, and how he used it to write a post about The Pomodoro Technique :)

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