I’ve become a slow writer. It’s really irritating.
I’ve worked to develop a writing habit over the last year, so that each day I sit down at my desk and write…something.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some specific articles to write, all with a hard, but reasonable deadline.
I’ve researched them, developed an outline for each and have been really clear about what I wanted to say.
I then set aside enough time to write them.
If all worked well, I’d be finished well ahead of schedule, allowing a stress-free week ahead of the deadline and the opportunity to do some important other stuff.
I was pretty good at sitting down at the desk on time. I got an opening sentence, maybe a paragraph or two. And then my mind wandered. I suddenly urgently needed to check on something else.
And then something else.
Of course, each time I returned to the article, it became harder to pick up the thread and as soon as a sentence needed real thought – I remembered something else that needed my urgent attention.
I was moaning about this lack of focus to my friend Jamie Squires, who just happens to be a bit of a productivity guru, when I realised what I’d been doing wrong. I’d been giving myself too much time.
Sitting down to complete a single task for half a day, when you know there’s more time available is daunting and for many people distraction is inevitable.
We talked about the Pomodoro Technique, which I’d been aware of and actually suggested a couple of times to coaching clients!
It’s beautifully simple.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Crillo in the 1980s. He broke the time allocated to a task into 25-minute chunks and set a timer (which happened to be shaped like a tomato – hence pomodoro).
At the end of the 25 minutes when the alarm rang, he took a short break and marked a red pomodoro on a piece of paper. He then carried on for another 25 minutes, marking the pomodoros down and taking a longer break after 4 pomodoros. And so on until the task was completed.
That’s it. If you need it, here are the steps:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the timer to 25 minutes.
- Work on the task.
- Stop when the timer rings, mark a pomodoro on a sheet of paper and take a short, 3-5 minute break. Get up, stretch and move around.
- After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break, then reset the checkmark on your paper and start from zero again.
It’s worked a treat for me. All the articles have been written and I’ve yet to reach 4 pomodoros, which just shows how damaging the distraction was. It’s easier to commit to focusing for 25 minutes than 3 hours. Big surprise!
You may already be using a version of the Pomodoro Technique, which is great.
If it’s new to you, and you’re finding yourself more distracted by working from home, then give it a try.
Or perhaps, like me, you collected it and stored it for the ‘right time’. In which case, I hope this is a reminder that the right time could be now.