Getting productive with the produce

I must confess: I’ve been stepping out with a tomato.

I hate to strut on in to the confessional box, but I’ve been kicking ass and taking names this month, for I have discovered the mental nitrate that is the pomodoro. Pomodoros are very simple: here’s how you do one.

  1. Get a timer and set it for 25 minutes
  2. While the timer is running, work steadily on your task. Do not answer your phone, check your email, facebook, twitter. Do not go to the bathroom. You are WORKING, and nothing else, for the next 25 minutes.
  3. When the timer goes off, pencils down. Midsentence, mid thought. Stop. Pat yourself on the back and reset for 5 minutes. This 5 minutes is exclusively for farting around. Go bumble around in the kitchen, do some sun salutations, play with a rubix cube, give your kid a wet willie. Whatever. You can look at the internet if you want, but total disconnection from the machine is most restful.
  4. 5 minutes up? Mark an X on a spare sheet of paper. You have completed one pomodoro. Set your timer back at 25 minutes and go again.

The imposed structure of the pomodoro technique means that you work through the hard stuff, where you’d normally get frustrated and take a break (never to return) and stop when you’re hot, so that you’re chomping at the bit to get back to it. The breaks keep you from burning yourself out, so you can work all morning and not feel washed out for the rest of the day.

I started doing my pomodoros with an egg timer, because I find the quiet ticking sound to be essential— it’s unobtrusive but reminds me that time is running out. After a few days I switched to the free Android app, PomLife. I like the app because I can tweak the settings to have a faintly audible ticktok and a vibrating buzzer, which is ideal for working when the kid’s in bed.  I can also keep to do lists, and it’s really gratifying to see that, for example, it took me 10 pomodoros to complete the edits I received from my last class submission.

I don’t do poms every day, only on those occasions when I don’t get a chance to write until after 8 pm, and I’m wiped from my daily hausfrau grind. It’s only 25 minutes. I mean….…I can do that. And once I do one, I can usually kick out another. Now I’m in a groove where I’m putting in solid work every single day and feeling very encouraged by the results. Steady, flowing, unblocked— it’s a fantastic feeling, and I recommend it to anyone who’s got something that needs doing. So, you know, everybody.