Respect for my own time and capability is quite difficult. I am losing both to laziness, perfectionism and other habits/thoughts that deter me from generating results that I think I want and deserve (hopefully). At least, I don’t give up. I keep attempting to combat these failures 25 minutes at a time. That’s right, I am talking about the Pomodoro Technique.
Francesco Cirillo’s idea has stood the test of time and experience. He first published his book, The Pomodoro Technique, in 2012. I am not sure how long the concept existed before that but Cirillo now runs a successful consulting/coaching business and he teaches others how to succeed as individuals and businesses. Dr. Oakley, a professor at Oakland University in Rochester, highly recommends this strategy. She is one of the facilitators of the Coursera offer, Learning How to Learn, which includes this method.
The Pomodoro Technique helps the mind slip into focus and begin work without thinking about the work. Virtually anyone can focus for 25 minutes, and the more you practice, the easier it gets.Learning How to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain by John Schwartz, New York Times, August 4 2017.
How It Works
Plan and start for 25 minutes. Complete that and you get a 5-minute break. Repeat until 4 or 5 cycles are completed. Then comes a longer break of 15-30 minutes and then the cycle starts again. Or set 25 minutes of focus whenever you need.
Why It Works
There are several ways that this concept shows how well it understands the mind:
- Focus time and unfocused or “diffuse” time get separated and that distinction is clearly enforced.
- Multitasking is discouraged in favour of concentration on the one task at hand.
- It caters to our impatience: the time is long enough so that something can actually be accomplished but isn’t pushing too hard.
- The break times cater to reward and relaxation upon success.
- It is easier to establish intent without too much thought. Starting the timer means you go.
- One issue is that it may give me the mental focus to keep working but doesn’t always set me up to do it as effectively and productively as possible.
How I Fail to Implement
Yesterday, I had to stop the timer with 8 minutes to go because I needed to go to the washroom and the process from there just derailed for my day. I finally avoided the task at hand because I was going in circles with it. I should have reassigned a 25-minute slot for myself to diagnose and problem solve. That would have set me up for a bit more success in the hours after that. More importantly, this solution can work miracles and transform only if I make it a habit to consistently rely on the method and return to it everyday.
- Keep practicing this technique till it becomes second nature.
- Read The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo, the creator of the concept.
- Take Dr. Oakley’s course, Learning How to Learn.
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