You say tomato, I say pomodoro

I love time management systems and methods and plans. But they have to be simple. Really simple.
If it involves color-coded tabs or little symbols or sorting tasks into boxes, I will fail. For me, time management has to be flexible, functional, and feasible.

In the past month I stumbled upon a new method that sounds promising. I’ve even gone so far as to download the desktop gadget for it… although I haven’t found the time (how sad is that?) to test it out yet. It’s called The Pomodoro Technique. You can find out more about it HERE.

I’ve been a multi-tasker for years.  Blame it on being a mom…
Cooking dinner – talking on the phone – balancing the checkbook – watching the evening news – with a baby in a backpack, and a toddler clinging to one leg. Or blame it on being a child of the 80’s, when the average attention span of a human being dropped to the average length of a music video on MTV.

Multi-tasking just seemed to be the way to go if I wanted to “get everything done,” which is, in itself, an oxymoron. Everything will never be done. If you don’t believe me, do the laundry or the dishes. No sooner is the laundry basket empty then someone throws their dirty underwear on the floor. Dry that last dish and put it away and someone will set a dirty glass or ice cream bowl in the sink. Just saying.

Recent studies indicate multi-tasking is not as productive as we were led to believe. (See this NYT article for evidence.)

So what’s the solution? It’s obvious most of us NEED some sort of time management technique, lest we be drowned in the tasks we keep avoiding in favor of doing things we like. Using the Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro means tomato in Italian… I’m glad they left it as pomodoro, because tomato technique just doesn’t sound quite right) you attack your to-do list in four 25-minute segments, with 5-minute breaks in between. After the fourth segment, you take a  20-minute break.

This appears to be especially helpful for those of us who are involved in creative endeavors – writing, painting, design, etc. – which have the ability to suck you into your chair for hours at a time. Only the longer you strain your brain you’re losing effectiveness, making more mistakes, and effectively thwarting your own best efforts.

I, for one, am not good at taking breaks. Once I start, I want to finish. This is particularly silly when pursuing goals like writing full novels, painting an entire room, all kinds of crafting projects, scrapbooking, and cooking.Yes, cooking. For years I’ve avoided recipes that require “chilling” or “marinating” because I hate to take breaks. Marathon cleaning sessions have frequently left me so exhausted I pass out on the couch without ever enjoying the fruits of my labor. (By the time I wake up someone has made a new mess, of course.)

The Pomodoro Technique will require me to exercise some self-discipline (never a bad thing) and will, hopefully, keep me from scrolling Facebook and Pinterest for hours on end instead of doing the things that I really want to do, the things that really MATTER.

My tomatoes outside in the garden are still green on the vine this first day of autumn, nevertheless, the change of season is a good time to start applying the tomato … er … Pomodoro .. technique!

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