Habitually Focused – The Pomodoro Technique

The human brain is a wondrous thing, capable of amazing feats of creativity and logic.  The complexities can be both boon and bane, the latter when distractions are present.  Last week, at the Ignite Phoenix event, I learned about a simple technique that can help when focus is needed.  It’s called Pomodoro, named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that was first used by technique creator Francesco Cirillo.  The technique revolves around 5 simple steps:

  1. decide on the task to be done (writing it down helps to confirm the focus)
  2. set the timer for 25 minutes (over time this act will train the brain that it’s time to focus)
  3. work on the task (and only the task) for 25 minutes, until the timer rings and mark an x next to the task
  4. take a 5 minute break (reward the brain for staying focused)
  5. repeat (and after completing 4, take a longer break like 15-20 minutes)

The individual 30 minute units are called “pomodoros” and the x marks show a measure of progress that is also a form of reward for accomplishment.  The timer sound reinforces the “no distractions” rule and also provides a bit of white noise.

I can certainly see the applications for this in my writing regimen, where anything that reinforces focusing habits is firmly in the boon column.

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