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Apr 18

P is for Pomodoro Technique

Time for another post about motivational methods you can use to improve your commitment to writing. Today is all about the Pomodoro Technique®, which is a useful way of ensuring bum in seat, fingers on keyboard, and eyes on screen. Some of you may already be using this method, but for those of you unfamiliar with the technique – read on!

The simplest version of the technique is as follows:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished
  2. Set the Pomodoro to twenty-five minutes (the timer is the Pomodoro)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break
  5. Every four Pomodoros, take a longer break

And that’s it!

The beauty of this method is it feels like you’re still procrastinating and working with no focus. Why is that a good thing? Because that’s how you get more work done! Think about it, when you sit at home with one task to complete you put it off for the whole day. Imagine if you had to fill in your tax returns…bleargh. You’re probably going to start seeing a hundred things that need ‘doing’ around the house. Before you know it you’ve got the ironing board out and you’ve de-creased two hundred (and one) socks, you’ve oiled that squeaky door, taken the bins out, cleaned out your u-bends, de-scaled the kettle, and alphabetised your DVD collection. You haven’t filed your tax returns but bloody hell, look how much other stuff you got done! Now imagine if you could focus that ‘jittery’ energy onto tasks you wanted to accomplish.

With the Pomodoro Technique® you start with a To Do Today worksheet on which you write down all the tasks you want to achieve that day (in order of priority). At the bottom of this sheet is a space to use if unexpected activities pop up. Don’t fret if they do simply continue with the technique and you’ll have them ticked off before you know it.

Set the timer, then work – this is the important bit – without interruption, for twenty-five minutes. When the timer goes off, stop working and add a cross in the box next to the activity you were completing. This does not mean the activity is finished, the cross represent one Pomodoro for the activity. This is done so you can measure the amount of time it took to achieve one goal. Now take your five minute break.

Repeat the above step until you’ve done four Pomodoros, and then take a longer break (from fifteen to thirty minutes).

Now back to the Pomodoro sessions! Once you complete an activity put a big fat black line through it…grinning at this stage is optional.

And that’s about it. There are other forms you can fill in, and you can always research the technique a little deeper if you wish but the above simple version should have you firing through that checklist in no time. For more information on the Pomodoro Technique® check out the official website.

Want to try it out but don’t have a kitchen timer? That’s no excuse; just use this handy free web-based application – Focus Booster.

Have fun pomodor-oing!

11 comments

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  1. Sam Perkins

    This is very similar to what I do already, but sounds much better! I work in 45 minute stints at the moment and I find they are way too long. So a 25 minute stint with a guaranteed longer break at the end of it would probably be more productive!

    Thanks for this 🙂

    1. Steven Chapman

      The only for me is I’ll get so into it that I’ll get annoyed with the ‘short’ time periods and throw the timer out of the window.

  2. Clare Dugmore Writes

    This sounds like an excellent technique. I was actually contemplating doing something like this, working for 50 mins then taking a ten min break. I might try the 25 min slots and see how I get on.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Steven Chapman

      I’ve never actually tried this method although I will have to give it a go, especially after blogging about it!

  3. Brenda Gunning

    I loved the idea of the Pomodoro Technique… until I got to the bit about lists…
    I DON’T DO LISTS. REALLY, I DO NOT DO LISTS ! There is nothing worse than the thought of making a list to completely STRESS ME OUT !!!!!
    Sorry, I guess the technique will work for many – just not me 🙂

    1. Steven Chapman

      Lists are amazing! I love lists! I like making lists of all the lists I have to make…not even kidding.

  4. Pamela Skjolsvik

    I went to a screen writing conference in LA several years ago and this was offered up as a way to get writing done, although he just called it the “kitchen timer method.” It was simply set the kitchen time for one hour. The only rules were that you couldn’t look on the internet and you had to write. Vomit drafts were the goal. Just get it out. I have a real problem with turning my editor off sometimes. I’d probably be a hell of a lot more productive if I employed this method.

    1. Steven Chapman

      Vomit drafts…titter.

  5. jesstopper

    I have no Pomodoro, but I have an Exorcist Chicken (head rotates) timer that may serve me well… thanks for the tip!

    1. Steven Chapman

      Ooh, I want an exorcist chicken timer!

  6. kime

    Did you guys try to play pomodoro game ?

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