Friday, March 20, 2015

Making more time for you -- try the tomato!

This week, a friend introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique and a free timer app that has instantly changed my life.

This is a get-it-done-without-burnout life hack developed in the 1990s, and it uses any timer that you happen to have (kitchen timer, phone . . .), but I love the free Clockwork Tomato app that does all the math for you.  (There are many apps like this, but I love this one because it's pretty.)

The concept is so simple.  Each day, you write down the top 3 or 5 tasks you want most to accomplish.  Then you use the timer to keep you on track to do rounds of working 25 minutes on a task (without allowing any interruptions) followed by a 5-minute break.  After four 25-minute work/5-minute break segments, you take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.

No multitasking of any kind is allowed while you're running the timer.  That means no answering the phone, checking email, looking at Facebook, or getting up from your task during the 25-minute segments (unless making phone calls *is* the task of your 25-minute segment).  Get up, get coffee, run to the bathroom, or whatever, during the 5-minute or 15-minute break.

It is amazing how productive you become without letting distractions get in the way.  And, guess what?  When you get work done faster, there's more time for fun -- which is the whole reason I wrote this post for you, my overworked divorcées!

But, wait!  You can use this for everything!
If you install the app on your phone rather than on your laptop, you can use the timer to be more productive with evening and weekend chores -- and get these exhausting tasks out of your way quickly.  Once again, amazing.  I can't wait for you to try this and see how quickly tasks are accomplished and how much time is freed up for self-care and fun.

When you're running your timer at home, you can be sure to fit in some exercise every day by making one 25-minute segment a physical activity.  Or how about a 25-minute relaxation period that you don't usually allow yourself?  When I'm swamped with more weekend work than I'd like, I schedule 25 minutes of chores followed by 25 minutes of fun in rotation until I'm finished with the annoying chores.   The bonus is that the chores are completed and out of the way (rather than hanging over my head and dreaded), and there's more free-and-clear evening and weekend time to enjoy.

I hear you saying:  What do you mean, without interruption?
Here's a suggestion on how to pleasantly handle interrupting colleagues, friends, or teenagers:
Let them know when you'll attend to them.  Deal with all of the interruptions in your next 5-minute rest period or 25-minute work segment and let them know how many minutes it will be until they have your undivided attention.

Undivided attention is much better than trying to handle their questions or concerns while simultaneously working on something else.

Other tips:
  • Turn your phone to silent or airplane mode.
  • If you have a door to the room in which you're working, close it.
  • Put a sign up, letting everyone know when you'll be free.
  • Don't have email, Facebook, or other enticing time-wasters open during Pomodoro time. 
  • Checking email just twice a day is a great practice to start now, if you'd like to start protecting more of your time for you.  You can get through email much more quickly when it piles up and you have to be more selective about what you choose to view.

Please let me know if you try this!  This system is already a miracle-worker for me, and I can't wait to start sharing it with my Dynamic Divorcée clients : )

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