If like me and you have looked up various ways on how to better your writing routine, you may have come across the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a method supposedly to help you focus and manage your time better. Don’t be fooled by its unusual name (based off of the tomato shaped Pomodoro kitchen timer), it’s a simple seven step program that has been adopted by many apps, industries and professionals.
If you haven’t heard of this method before, here it is in it’s simplest form:
- Choose a task
- Set a timer, the default being 25 minutes
- Work for 25 minutes (or time specified)
- Stop working when time is up, mentally or on a piece of paper checking off a session
- Take a short break (traditionally 5 minutes)
- Set the timer again
- After four Pomodoros take a longer break (around 30 minutes)
The technique is popular because it is highly customisable. If you are someone who works better with longer sprints increase your work time from 25 minutes to 45. If you prefer longer breaks that are more rewarding, change your break time from 5 minutes to 20, increasing your bigger break to an hour.
Setting the Timer
As a major procrastinator I was relieved to find such a technique focusing on resting as it was on working. Although those breaks would be short, I hoped that it would help me focus more by dividing up my writing sessions. So I downloaded an app and off I went following the steps as they were originally designed.
My task: Write 2000 words
Work time: 25 minutes
Short break time: 5 minutes
Long break time: 30 minutes
It worked… Then it didn’t.
For my first Pomodoros it worked. I set my task, I followed the steps, I completed my tasks adding to my word count and feeling happy with my progress. I even adapted the technique for cleaning (I never did understand those who like dusting around the house). However, as the novelty wore off so did my work ethic.
I faced the truth that my biggest issue isn’t finishing a sprint. It’s starting one. The phrase ‘starting is the hardest part’ has never been truer than when it is directed at me. When I’m on a sprint I could go for hours, but to start has to see me make several reasons why I shouldn’t.
“I should eat first.”
“It’s 10:42, I’ll start at 11:00.”
“I can catch up on words tomorrow.”
“It’s 11:02, I’ll start at 12:00.”
I knew the excuses were just that, excuses. Yet it stopped me from completing the goals I set up and the technique isn’t so effective if you don’t start the timer.
Although the Pomodoro Technique may not have worked as well as expected it did teach me a lot about what works for me. In fact I have adapted the Pomodoro Technique in my own workings in a way. I still struggle with starting especially after a long day at work but I know when I do I can sit comfortably for a least two hours and write.
I can write around 1,000 words per the hour. If I plan for more than 2,000 words in a day, I work for two hours and then take a break for an hour, ready to come back and work again. Sometimes it doesn’t always work that way as I have to force myself to start again, but the technique is adaptable. Plus I still use it for cleaning.