Slave to the tomato


Recently, I’ve been attempting to use the pomodoro technique to increase my productivity.

Overview: You work continuously on a single task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. After four 25 minute work intervals, you take a longer break of 20 minutes or so.

Sounds simple enough, right. What’s surprisingly difficult is keeping out the distractions, even for a period as short as 25 minutes. My mind is constantly churning with such thoughts as:
“I wonder if I have any new email…”
“I should update my LoveFilm list…”
“I’ll just look on wikipedia for that barely related thing…”
“Oooh, but I need to do that today…”
“I wonder what the weather’s like…”
“I’m hungry…”

It goes on. My mind is like a greedy, hyperactive butterfly. The benefit of this technique is that when the clock is on, you resist these distractions. You capture them, pin them down on a piece of paper and let them languish there until the timer stops, then deal with them in the break or in a later 25 minute interval. My hope is that continued application of this discipline will train my mind to concentrate once again.

Another benefit is to my health. I sit at a desk all day and type. It’s wrecking my back and wrists. The 5 minute breaks are a godsend, a visible and audible reminder to get off my backside, walk around, have a drink of water and generally decompress.

Me and pomodoro work well together at the moment. I’m using the tremendously customisable Clockwork Tomato Android app as my timer. If you’re interested in trying pomodoro, check this app out. It’s the best one I’ve tried.

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