You Say Pomodoro. I Say Pomo-DONE-o!
I know the title for this post is the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written. But, it makes me laugh. So there.
Every aspect of what I do for a living involves me to be a “self starter”. As an actor- I have to do my own marketing, my own preparation for auditions, my own copies, my own submissions… And this is all before I even book a job. The job is the easy part. I show up, people tell me what to do and I go home. But most of my “work” I do off set. As a writer- I roll out of bed and have to manage my time, wisely. If I don’t, I end up on Amazon buying all of the books on the best-seller list and justifying it as “research”. As a producer- Don’t get me started. You’re the only one doing ANYTHING as a producer. You are doing EVERYTHING that NO ONE wants to do. And, time can slip away in a snap. So, time management is the key.
When you are an artist, no one teaches you how to manage your time. Isn’t that one of the stereotypes? We flitter through life, not concerned about the rules of society. “It took me ten years to write my novel, because I needed my soul to bleed out in it’s own time…” Well, here’s the reality: I need to get shit done. I’m a working-artist mother. I don’t have time to be waiting for “the time”to feel like writing, etc.. If I want to write an article or play, I need to do it now. Especially with the efficiency and speed of life in the internet age. So, a friend turned me on to The Pomodoro Technique. It’s named after the iconic tomato (pomodoro in Italian) kitchen timer. Honestly, this site would still be in limbo without it.
The technique, basically, streamlines what you need to get done in a day and forces you to attack each task in uninterrupted 25 minute spurts. It decreases “burn out” by giving you 3-5 minute breaks every 25 minutes. It has worked wonders for me. I get shit done! (As long as I am pomodoro-ing.) Even as I type, the ticking of my Pomodoro app is buzzing in my ears. (Apparently, the sound helps your brain to focus with a sense of urgency from the tick-tock.)
Here’s the ChikFood gist of it (but, please go to the Pomodoro Technique website to get the whole scoop):
Make a list of EVERYTHING you need to get done.
At the start of each day, make a more condensed list of what you want to get done that day.
Break up your to do list into 25 minute pomodoro tasks. Note that pomodoros can be divided. Meaning one task may take you one and a half, or six pomodoros. For instance, my articles usually take between two to six pomodoros. But, my emails are usually less than one. So, I will combine my emails with another small task in one pomodoro.
Set your pomodoro timer for 25 minutes and work UNINTERRUPTED until the timer goes off.
Then take s 3-5 minute break.
Start another 25 minute pomodoro.
Take a longer break (25-30 minutes) after four pomodoros.
Make sure you write down when you start each pom and if it actually took the amount of time you estimated.
If you get interrupted by yourself or another, make a notation of it. It’s interesting to see how you or your workplace effects your productivity.
Do this until the end of your work day and look at your list at the end of the day. You’ll be shocked at how much you get done. Or, how long things actually take to get done.
Here are some handy worksheets to help you get started:
Also, here are some apps and vendors to buy your own Pomodoro timer:
Tomato Timer for your home computer
Pomodoro Timer from Amazon.com
9 Free Apps for your mobile device.