We do nasty things to clocks. We beat them. We kill them. We go against them. This is madness. Why not make the clock your ally? I did, and I have felt better ever since.
The Secret lies in tomatoes
I used to waste whole evenings, even weekends, going around the flat, checking social media all the time, never getting things done. THIS was madness.
Luckily, I'm working at an IT company. Some programmers at my office introduced me to the famous Pomodoro* Technique, the lightweight method to make the best use of your time.
The rules are simple: find a timer (a kitchen-type ringing one would be best) and set it for 25 minutes and work without any interruptions. Afterwards, set a 5 minute countdown and use it for a break. Repeat 3 times. The last break should last for 15-30 minutes. That's it!
Yes sir, that might sound ridiculous. After all, you do work for 8 hours every day, don't you?
And you don't check neither Facebook nor Twitter, not to mention cute cat videos.
What about exchanging 8 hours of interruptions, lunch break, coffee breaks, chatting and intermittent work for… 350 minutes (~6 hours) of laser-focused, furious work with limited breaks in between?
You break the work into smaller chunks. Corner and eliminate it, one by one. By limiting to just 25 minute sessions, your mind remains fresh and sharp.
And all thanks to setting up a small kitchen timer.
And how do you do it, smarty?
Firstly, I tidy my desk. Then I plan on what I want to do, because the Pomodoro Technique is worthless when you don't know what to work on. Thirdly, I set my cow timer on and beaver away. I always get away from the computer duri
ng the breaks: I stretch out, make a tea, have a look outside etc, and I log every finished pomodoro, just to see how productive I am.
Of course, running a pomodoro, after pomodoro, is an ideal-world scenario. My programming friends feel really great after making 12-13 during a working day. Doing 14 is an achievement.
I don't want to become an ultra productive robot
Don't worry. There are always a few things that eat your tomatoes. The first is, well, eating.
Preparing a dinner takes time, as well as going out to buy something. You could deal with this productivity obstacle (doh!) by devoting the fourth pomodoro + "big" break to the dinner. Having snacks at the ready and munching them during the breaks helps as well.
The second impediment to your productivity spree is the human race. Well, a portion of it, your co-workers and family. There's always a reason to interrupt you – be it food, chatter or a crazy dog video. Here you must be adamant, waving off anyone during your pomodoro session. You should contact them during your break time, as advised by the Pomodoro Technique makers.
The last thing is… you. You're your own worst enemy. It takes discipline to remain focused for full 25 times, without reaching for the items on your desk, "optimising" it or opening random links. Be brave!
Tomato-Clock Alliance. Does this sound weird?
I hope it doesn't now. The Pomodoro Technique is about making the best of your time, getting things done and, eventually, becoming a more efficient person. It's especially useful nowadays, with all this flurry of notifications and funny distractions.
You don't need any fancy, expensive tools to start pomodoring. Just make the clock your ally.
*Pomodoro is a tomatoe in Italian 🙂