Pomo-momo

May. 5th, 2014 09:37 am
arguchik: (cool spock)
[personal profile] arguchik
I have been using the Pomodoro Technique to help me manage my time better. It works for me for a couple of reasons (ETA: okay, I ended up with four reasons, LOL):

  1. It is very simple and straightforward. I find complicated planner systems so cumbersome to use, I typically lose interest in them after a week or two. Sometimes I lose interest while I'm still learning a system, before I even start using it, because I just know that I won't be able to keep track of all the moving parts.

  2. It "lowers the bar" to starting a lengthy and/or tedious project. The big example for me is grading. I actually quite enjoy reading student work, so my reluctance to start grading has always been somewhat baffling to me. I finally realized, embarrassingly recently, that I feel reluctant because I never know how long it will take for me to finish grading a set of papers. Having ADHD means that sometimes it takes me 3 hours to grade, say, twenty 3-page papers; and sometimes it takes me 10 hours. I am not exaggerating. It feels a lot different to say, "I am going to grade this set of papers for 3 pomodoros" vs. "I am going to grade this entire set of papers." In other words, the technique makes it OK for me to do part of the project, rather than feeling like I have to finish the entire thing in one go. (This is probably intuitively obvious to most people, but having ADHD also means that I approach every project with the nagging worry that I am going to fail to complete it.)

  3. It helps me to keep track--on a micro level--of how efficiently I'm working. Each pomodoro is 25 minutes, followed by a brief assessment of what I accomplished during that pomodoro, and then a 5 minute break. (They recommend throwing in a longer break, like 15 minutes, after each set of 4 pomodoros.)

  4. The breaks! I have to be careful to do something completely different during the breaks--switching from grading (which I do via a web interface) to surfing the 'net does not work!

To further streamline the whole thing, I use the mytomatoes.com timer/tracker website. This works great for me because, again, it is really streamlined. There is nothing on the timer page except my timer, a little preferences tab, and a running column of notes from all of my previously completed pomodoros.

I wholeheartedly recommend the technique. It is not only helping me to stay caught up on my grading, it has also been the single most influential factor in helping me to get un-stuck in my dissertation writing. It helps me focus on taking the individual steps, rather than getting overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of the whole project. Maybe it will help you...if you struggle with this too.

Date: 2014-05-05 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shellefly.livejournal.com
Thank you for posting this. I am going to try it - I have issues starting/completing tasks because the idea of the time things take and what else I have to do is very overwhelming. Taking my meds makes it better, but part of my problem is that I have been overwhelmed for so long that sometimes my brain overrides the meds and I get off task anyway.

Date: 2014-05-06 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arguchik.livejournal.com
Ugggh. That happens to me too.

What I should have specified in #2 in my list is that it's having lived with undiagnosed ADHD for all but the last 1+ year of my life, that has given me the "nagging feeling" that I either won't be able to finish a task, or that I'll do a bad job on it. It's an accumulated history thing, not simply "low self esteem."

I would love to hear back from you about how the Pomodoro technique works out for you. Even as streamlined as the technique already is, I am still incorporating it into my life stepwise, one part of the technique at a time. I use the timer, and I use the mytomatoes site to record what I accomplish during each pomodoro, but I haven't even approached the more advanced techniques of maintaining to-do lists (not just making them), prioritizing tasks, and tracking my long-term patterns. Even at this beginning level, I'm seeing so much improvement that incorporating it incrementally isn't stressing me out.
Edited Date: 2014-05-06 12:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-06 11:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-violet.livejournal.com
Pomodoro is my BFF.

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