Sunday, July 24, 2011

Productivity/Time Management System

I feel so strongly about developing habits to focus (and teaching them to this smartphone drenched society.) I love technology, but some of us can feel "addicted" and need systems for focusing on other projects. Checking e-mail and twitter constantly, combined by people stopping by and streams of meetings can prevent you from focusing on the projects that really matter.

I first learned about the Pomodoro technique in December, 2010. I took several weeks to research time management systems that really worked. After much research, I decided to commit to this system. I love it. I absolutely love it. It's simple, and works. For anyone.

It's called the Pomodoro technique, and at the very, very, very basic) level, here is how I used the technique. (Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, and the time they use looks like a tomato.)
1. I have bought a timer. (Most use their phone, but I get too many texts.)
The Pomodoro website sells a supercute timer, but I buy the Blue Moon Timer and stopwatch through Amazon $26 because the chime is so pretty at the end. (My kids like the sound when I try it with them.)
2. List the tasks that must be done.
3. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Focus on one task at a time.
4. After 25 minutes, take a mandatory 5 minute break. After the break, continue focusing on that one task for 25 minutes.
5. After 3-4 Pomodoros, you can take a 35 minute break.

I know you may have heard this before - take a break. But please, try this systematic approach.
When I go on writing retreats I can go all day long and not feel tired, and my work product is significantly better. My writing partner (usually the provost) and I know when we can chit chat together. You will soon learn how many "pomodoros" projects really take, and therefore you really will become more strategic about what you say yes to!

The beauty of the system is that it's simple. However, there is much more information available if desired that can help increase your focus on tasks that matter.

For more free information, worksheets and inspiration, see:

I Use the Pomodoro Technique