• Pandemiployment

Job Talk: More Done in Less Time

I remember reading about the Pomodoro Method way back in...dunno. Luckily I recall the original blog I saw it on, shout out to The GoldenGirl! Her post on productivity was back in 2016, so apparently we're on our four year anniversary. She does not know me, but it's cool. Blog relationships, am I right?

If you are currently working remote at a desk-y computer-y type job, and this was not your situation pre-pandemic, can I recommend? I love reading about productivity tips and tricks myself, so for some Friday Fun, let me outline the basic premise:

This is a legit productivity method named after a tomato. Cannot tell you why. Check out the founder/inventor/mastermind Francisco Cirillo's website if you want to get deep.

If you want to stay shallow, read on.

Basically, you need to do something. A To Do. I think it can be any kind of To Do, but I use this for work. As a remote worker at an office type job, I find long stretches of unscheduled time to be both amazing! Huzzah, no meetings! Time to get shit done!

And terrible! So many to do's, where do I even start? Lots of time can equal procrastination. Let me just check that blog for an update, do an insta scroll, stare at the wall for a second, I have time! Plenty of time! Wait, what did I freaking get DONE today?


So, the technique is basically this: Pick something you need to do. Sometimes it helps to pick anything and not worry about priorities. You need to get the ball rolling. You're only going to do it for a set amount of time before getting a break.

Example, let's work on my inbox. Set timer for 25 minutes. My brain is like, cool, I only have to work for 25 minutes. I can do that. I can read, sort, respond to email, if I only have to do it for 25 minutes. Then the timer dings, and I get a break. I find that often I'll go another 5-10 minutes to finish something off before breaking.

You can set your own intervals. I think you're supposed to go 25 min on, 5 min, then after four cycles you get a longer break?

Whatever, make your own damn rules. Play with the intervals and make them work to your advantage. Some folks are just getting into their concentration flow and need a longer work interval, and then a longer break. Others like it short and snappy with lots of little breaks.

I am going to make a completely unfounded claim based on my personal experience. If you are struggling to structure your day, or have prioritized your To Do list like a champ and yet still cannot actually start on that top priority item? Give this method a go.

Take an hour of your day. Say you do 25 min work, 10 min break, 25 min work. What do you get done? Do you feel guilty over the thought of 16% of that hour being used for something not work related? Are you like, but I have SO MUCH TO DO. Why are you telling me to stop doing it?

Be honest with yourself, do you actually work for a solid 60 minutes straight? And then another 60 after that? Repeated 8 or 9 times, ALL DAY LONG. You don't take tea breaks? Chat with a coworker? Surf the internet? (Do we still say surf?) Stare disconsolately at your Inbox and To Do list and Planner and cry?

For me, a lot of productivity is about finding motivation and managing "free" time blocks so they work to my advantage. I will get more done with scheduled breaks, because my work time is me, doing work, and nothing else. During my break time, I pee, make tea, put the laundry in the dryer, grab a snack, clean the nearest flat surface, check my texts. Then the timer dings and I'm back on work time.

There's something about knowing, I only have to do this for 25 minutes, that allows you to just go ahead and do the damn thing. There's a lot of science out there about how we suck at multi-tasking, and how we need to try to get into Flow periods where we are able to Focus on what we're doing, and I would cite it all but I'm actually typing this during a break so I need to hurry the fuck up.

Humans spent a lot of our history not sitting at computers, so we need to figure out ways to harness what is awesome about us:

  • We can concentrate for lengthy periods of time!

  • Opposable thumbs!

  • Ability to join Zoom calls!

And try to avoid or game our way out of our not so great features:

  • We can use our opposable thumbs to mindlessly scroll through social media!

  • We can effectively procrastinate, often because we are overloaded and overwhelmed by the sheer number and size of our tasks!

Give it a try. I'm not saying I'm a diehard user of this method. Whenever I need a work reset, a way to refresh my habits, get myself back on track and checking things off my To Do List, I Pomodoro.

I LOVE that feeling of Getting Shit Done (GSD). When I have that feeling, I find I am able to maximize my GSD potential and achieve maximum GSD per my biology and time constraints. You want to start your workday as strong as possible so you feel like you are a GSD master.

Also GSD is totally a method you can look into. I just enjoy it as an acronym, because I tried the GSD method and Bullet Journaling, and they didn't work for me. Which is totally cool. I like to try things out, and then keep the methods that improve my outcomes. Full disclosure, I am not monogamous in my productivity hacks.

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