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Pomodoro for Writers

Hughes / POMODORO FOR WRITERS / 22

Pomodoro for Writers

 

Adam Hughes

 

Shakespir Edition

 

Copyright © 2016 Adam Hughes

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Your Free Gift

 

To show my appreciation for you taking the time to read my book, I have a special gift for you.

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h3<>. 5 Dads Who Loved Their Kids Above All Else

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h3<>. 3 Men Who Were Great Leaders at Home and in the Office

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h3<>. 4 Terrible Dads Who Can Help You Avoid Their Mistakes

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h3<>. The Heroic Father Who Shaped His Children’s Lives Even from the Grave

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Thank you!

You’re Missing Out!

As an aspiring author, have you ever bemoaned the fact that you just don’t have enough time to write as much as you want, as much as you need, in order to succeed at your chosen craft?

 

It’s a common lament, and it’s no secret why we all struggle to get much of anything done when it comes to writing.

 

We’re busy. REALLY busy.

 

Many of us have a spouse and children, and most of us have “day” jobs outside of writing that demand a ton of our time and energy. Between working 40-50 hours per week, commuting back and forth, and running the kids around after school, there is barely time left to eat, let alone write.

 

If you take a hard look at your schedule, though, you will find that there is indeed some fat -- chunks of time when you could be writing but that you are not using at all, or at least not using effectively.

 

Here are some of those time wedges that most of us have available, at least to some extent:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Early morning

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Late night

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Lunch

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Break periods at work

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Time spent watching television

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Weekend goof-off time

 

You’re probably thinking that these are just tiny blocks that don’t amount to much when it comes to finishing that novel you have stuck in your head or even cranking out more blog posts. You might also bristle at the idea of giving up any of your “free” time, or losing sleep in order to write.

 

The fact is that you cannot fit writing into your busy life without giving up something, and it should not be your work or family who suffer. You will have to decide for yourself whether your dream of writing success is worth sacrificing lunch out with your co-workers every day and those nighttime sitcoms.

 

Assuming that you’re willing to make that sacrifice, though, you still might not be convinced that you can get much done in 30 minutes here or 15 minutes there. But if you’re not taking advantage of these “free shots” at writing success, you’re really missing out, and many writers find that chunking up their work can actually be more productive than setting aside a full morning or afternoon for writing.

 

You can’t just sit down to your computer, however, and expect magic to happen, at least not at first. You need a plan of action, and that’s where the Pomodoro Technique comes into play.

 

Used correctly, Pomodoro just could be the “secret sauce” that helps you squeeze more quality writing into your busy day than you ever thought possible.

 

What Is Pomodoro?

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s as a way to study more intensely and get more work done while he was in college. Over the years, Cirillo has revised and proselytized Pomodoro, and he has even written a book on the topic.

 

The general idea behind Pomodoro is that most of us, especially in today’s fast-paced world, have trouble focusing on one activity at a time because our senses are constantly under siege. External demands and stimuli are ever-increasing, and it’s all too easy to get distracted by a phone call, email, or YouTube video.

 

Pomodoro invites us to turn off the distractions for a short period of time, pick ONE priority that we need (or want) to attack, and dig in with complete focus.

 

After this “sprint,” we rest for a few minutes -- this is vital to success with the method -- then focus again for another intense period. Each of these sprints is called a Pomodoro, after the Italian word for “tomato” and the kitchy food timers that look like tomatoes. In fact, Cirillo used one of those chronometers for his experiments in college, and that’s where the method gets its name.

 

Pomodoro sounds simple, and it is, but it can have a tremendous effect on your productivity.

 

How Do You DO Pomodoro?

Pomodoro is SO simple, in fact, that you can start right now with almost no preparation or setup at all. Here’s how to do it:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pick a task that you want to knock off your to-do list.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Set your Pomodoro timer to 25 minutes.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Work on the task until your timer dings.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take a short break -- usually around five minutes.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Repeat this cycle three more times, or a total of two hours.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. After your four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

 

That’s the basic process, but there are some tweaks and pointers that can help you get the most out of the Pomodoro Technique.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Ideally, you will be able to finish a task during a 25-minute Pomodoro. In the real world, you’ll probably need to continue during a later sprint. Feel free to keep working after the “ding” if you’re on a roll. The purpose of Pomodoro is to keep you focused, not to box you into a set framework.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. On a similar note, adjust the length of your Pomodoros and rest periods as needed. The standard Pomodoro is 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break, but you won’t always have that long. If you have a 10-minute work break, take a minute or two to find a quiet writing place, set your timer for 7 minutes, and crank away until the bell tolls.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. You may find that Pomodoros work well during certain periods, but not during others. If you’re interrupted during a Pomodoro, Cirillo prescribes the following approach:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Inform the person who interrupts you that you’re working on something important.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Negotiate a time when you can get back to them.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Schedule the follow-up while the distractor is still in front of you.

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Call back, or make good on your word to contact the interrupter when your Pomodoro is finished.

 

Naturally, this remedy won’t work with everyone who disrupts you, and emergencies usually trump Pomodoros, but it’s a good place to start. Once people begin to understand your process and trust that you will keep your promise to follow up, you may find that you encounter fewer distractions

What Do You Need to Do Pomodoro?

Because Pomodoro is so simple in concept, you don’t need very much to get set up, and you can start anytime. In fact, all you should EVER need in order to use Pomodoro effectively is:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A list of tasks to be completed

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A workspace

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A diversion for break periods

*
p<>{color:#000;}. A timer

 

That first one -- tasks to do -- is a given since you’re reading this guide and looking for ways to get more done.

 

Finding a workspace can be a challenge depending on the type of task you’re trying to knock off your list. If you’re at your job and attacking work items, it’s no problem -- you just plug away at your desk (or wherever) as normal, only breaking up your tasks into Pomodoros. If you’re trying to squeeze in some writing during lunch or breaks, then you need to find a space that won’t infringe on your employment. A few ideas include:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take your laptop or tablet to work and find an empty hallway during break times.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take your laptop or tablet to the lunchroom or a restaurant at lunch.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Go to your car and write on a tablet (paper OR electronic).

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take a walk and use an app to dictate your writing.

 

With a little thought, you can surely come up with other ideas to fit your situation.

 

Likewise, rest periods are up to you, and maybe unnecessary or impractical depending on your goals. If you’re using your work breaks to fit in some extra writing, for instance, then you likely will be doing only one sprint at a time. At lunch or during work-related sprints, then you can try any of these break activities, or come up with your own:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Take a walk

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Surf the web

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Stretch

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Do some desk exercises

 

The important thing to remember about your breaks is that they should give your mind a relief from the intense labor it’s been doing. Don’t do anything too taxing, and switching from the mental to the physical is usually best.

 

Finally, you need a timer of some sort to do Pomodoro. Some practitioners swear by physical timers, and many like to “stay in character” by using a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. This works well, but there are several software-based timers that you can try, as well. Among those are:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Marinara Timer (web)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Tomighty (desktop)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodorable (OS X)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Simple Pomodoro (Android)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Focus Timer (iOS)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Online Stopwatch (web)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Time and Date Online Timer (web)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Online Stopwatch (web)

 

I have personally had good results with the Marinara Timer, and find it very easy to use -- just load it up in your favorite web browser and let it go. You can use the standard, built-in 25-minute timer or customize your Pomodoro for whatever length suits your situation. I produced this guide, for instance, on my lunch breaks while using the Marinara Timer to mark off 25-minute Pomodoros but also squeezed in a couple of 15-minute sprints.

Who Can Use Pomodoro?

If you haven’t picked up on it already, the Pomodoro Technique is extremely flexible, which means just about anyone can use it to get more work done in concentrated doses. In fact, it’s pretty hard to think of a situation where Pomodoro could NOT be employed to some extent.

 

Here are just  a few examples of the types of people and situations where Pomodoro might prove useful:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Software programmers working on project tasks

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Managers preparing yearly employee reviews or budgets

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Artists creating drawings, painting, sculptures, songs, poetry, and prose

*
p<>{color:#000;}. HelpDesk technicians working through client tickets

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Farmhands cleaning out barns

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Students working on homework assignments or studying for exams

 

When you think about it, everyone is trying to focus better and get more work done, and that’s just what Pomodoro helps you do. If you’re even a tiny bit creative, you’ll find ways that Pomodoro can make you more productive in just about any setting.

How Can Authors Use Pomodoro?

At this point, you may see the promise of Pomodoro, but you may also still be wondering just how the technique can help you make the best use of your writing time. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios that demonstrate how this might work in practice.

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. You’re a full-time, self-employed writer with no other job.

For many writers, this is the dream scenario, but it’s also the most pressure-packed. If writing is your only job, then you must produce results in order to keep your income flowing.

 

In this situation, you will most likely have the freedom to choose your writing schedule, and you can use Pomodoro to full effect. An example morning routine might look like this:

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodoro #1 (9 am) – Begin writing an article.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Break (9:25 am)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodoro #2 (9:30 am) – Continue writing article.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Break (9:55 am)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodoro #3 (10:00 am) – Complete first draft of article

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Break (10:25 am)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodoro #4 (10:30 am) – Edit and refine article

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Break (10:55 am)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodoro #5 (11:15 am) – Begin writing another article.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Break (11:40 am)

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Pomodoro #6 (11:45 am) – Continue writing second article.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Lunch (12:10 pm)

 

Depending on your subject matter and individual writing speed, this may be ambitious or it may undersell your productivity. The point is, though, that you will be focused intensely on producing one piece of content during any given sprint or series of sprints. For most, this will stand in stark contrast to the usual pattern of writing a few lines, checking your email, writing a bit more, surfing to Facebook, etc.

 

In our example, you will have completed one full article and most of another before lunch, when a more meandering path would likely leave you twisting for a day or more to get the same amount accomplished.

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. You’re not a full-time writer but can write on your lunch break.

 

If you’re a writer with another full-time job and you spend your lunch hour doing anything other than writing, then you’re missing a prime opportunity for getting ahead.

 

If you can sit at your desk and write, either on the computer or on paper, without flouting company rules, then that is your best bet.

 

If you need to leave the office in order to write, then do so, but make your exit and get set up as quickly as possible. Take your lunch and eat in the car or at a local coffee shop, find a corner down the hall where you can sit in peace, or even walk around the block a few times as you dictate into your tablet or phone.  

 

The important thing is that you write during lunch, your longest break of the day. If you have an hour, you should be able to squeeze in two Pomodoros. If you have just half an hour, you can still shoot for one 25-minute block every day.

 

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. You’re not a full-time writer, but you get up early or stay up late to write.

 

Adjusting your sleep schedule to allow more time for writing is a tremendous way to get more words on the page. I find that early morning, when no one else is awake or in the office is the perfect time to focus my thoughts and push through writing roadblocks. The same can be said of late nights, though the fatigue of the day can weigh on you in the wee hours.

 

Either way, Pomodoro can help you make the most of your time. If you can squeeze in an hour for writing, then you can do two full Pomodoros, but even 15 extra minutes each morning can make a huge difference for your output over time.

 

Once you become accustomed to the process, don’t be surprised if one quarter-hour Pomodoro nets you 500-1000 extra words per day. Over the course of three months, that’s a small novel!

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. You’re not a full-time writer, but you plan to write on your breaks.

 

From a time-management standpoint, this will be the most challenging scenario of all. Most of the time, at-work breaks last only 5-10 minutes, and that doesn’t give you much room for ceremony. Depending on your circumstances, it may also negate the need for any kind of Pomodoro setup, which can be an advantage.

 

Simply put, when you’re going to write on breaks, you just need to squeeze in as many words as possible, however you can. Grab a pad and pen and head for the corner; talk into a dictation app while you walk to the bathroom; pop open your tablet and slam down a couple of paragraphs.

 

Most of the time, your break period will be timeboxed, and you won’t need a timer. Feel free to use one if you want, but don’t waste much time fussing around with it.

 

 

Can You Use Pomodoro with Trello (or MS Project or Asana or …)?

Most authors have developed or adopted some sort of system for tracking their work and measuring progress, so you may wonder how Pomodoro would fit with what you’re already doing. Do you have to throw away your current setup in order to use the Pomodoro Technique effectively?

 

No way!

 

One of the really appealing aspects of Pomodoro is that is a focused, tactical method for helping you to get done whatever work you need to get done. As such, it plays well with nearly every productivity and project management methodology.

 

For instance, I live and die by my Trello boards. Every idea I have, and every task I need to finish finds a home as a card on one of the 50 or so boards that I maintain between work, writing, and home. Using this setup, I have developed a mixed style of project management that works very well for my team and me. It’s a hybrid of Getting Things Done, basic Agile, and Scrum, and it is an essential part of what we do.

 

In fact, I’m convinced that we wouldn’t get done half of the work we churn through on a regular basis without our organizational tools to help us catalog, prioritize, and track our tasks and projects.

 

But for all of their utility and importance to us, Trello boards don’t tell us anything about how to tackle our individual work items. And that’s where Pomodoro can lend structure and direction -- on the micro, or task, level.

 

By focusing on one Trello card (or task in MS Project or Asana) for an entire Pomodoro, or set of Pomodoros, you can hone in on what you need to do at any given moment. And you’ll probably get a lot more done than if you move from task to task over the course of an hour or less.

 

In short, then, project management systems and tools help you plan the “big picture” in various ways, but Pomodoro can work with just about any of them to help you actually finish your tasks.

 

The Downside of Pomodoro?

While I’ve painted a pretty rosy picture of Pomodoro, it has a downside or two.

 

For starters, even though Pomodoro is flexible to some extent, it does tend to impose a structure on your work. If you use it in its basic form, you’ll be knocking off 25-minute chunks and “resting” for 5 minutes, repeated for sets of four cycles.

 

Especially at the beginning, you will likely find that you either have time to fill at the end of your Pomodoro, or you’ll be right in the middle of something important when the timer goes off. You CAN cut short or extend the Pomodoro as you need to, but then you might lose the flow of the method. In short, the technique will feel stilted for at least some writers, particularly the more artistic types who depend on finding inspiration and riding it until it peters out.

 

An adjunct to this structure is that you may feel compelled to watch the clock.

 

If you’re stuck for words, your thoughts might stray to, “How much time do I have left to fill?”

 

If you’re rolling along, the monologue may be more along the lines of, “Oh, jeez, only 4 minutes and 28 seconds left … Hurry! Hurry!”

 

Either way, the timer can be distracting if you allow it to be.

 

Of course, these drawbacks are also part of the design of Pomodoro that can make it so effective. The technique provides a structure that is often lacking for writers, and it also creates an urgency to get work done while you’re on the clock.

 

In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether or not Pomodoro is right for you.

 

Do You NEED Pomodoro?

So, do you need the Pomodoro Technique to be successful as a writer? Of course not!

 

Pomodoro, as a formal entity, has only been around since Cirillo was in college. Obviously, there were hundreds or thousands of prolific writers in decades past who never even heard of Pomodoro.

 

And not every method fits every writer, or every writing style.

 

How do you know, then, if Pomodoro will help you?

 

Luckily, there are some common characteristics and situations that make a person more susceptible to the charms of Pomodoro.

 

For instance, do you …

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … procrastinate when it comes to starting your next book, article, or writing assignment?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … spend several minutes -- or hours -- staring at a blank screen when you finally DO sit down to write?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … produce less pages or words per week, month, or year than you think you should?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … have great ideas when you’re away from your desk but freeze up when you start writing?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … feel rusty whenever you start a new project?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … struggle to find the time to write?

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … feel generally dissatisfied with your writing process?

 

If any of these apply to you, then you’re a prime candidate to benefit from Pomodoro.

 

On the other hand, writers who already crank out 2000 words or more per day or publish books, stories, or blog posts on a regular basis may not need any additional help. They have likely found the methods that work for them, even if that is NO discernible method, and Pomodoro might actually slow them down.

 

In my experience, though, most writers will produce more content, faster, when using the Pomodoro Technique -- or other timeboxing methods -- than when going it alone. For many, Pomodoro is the “secret sauce” that can turbocharge productivity and help you finally reach your writing goals.

 

If you’re in doubt, it’s probably worth a shot. After all, what have you got to lose besides 25 minutes and that clean white screen mocking you every time you sit down to your computer?

 

So … on your mark … get setPomodoro!

 

Thank You — and a Free Gift

 

Thank you for reading Pomodoro for Writers.

 

If you liked this book, then you might also enjoy 101 Life Hacks from Famous Literary Fathers, a cheat sheet for building a happy family AND successful career.

Read the “deathbed confessions” of …

*
h3<>. 5 Dads Who Loved Their Kids Above All Else

*
h3<>. 3 Men Who Were Great Leaders at Home and in the Office

*
h3<>. 4 Terrible Dads Who Can Help You Avoid Their Mistakes

*
h3<>. The Heroic Father Who Shaped His Children’s Lives Even from the Grave

*
h3<>. 7 Dads Who Found Immortality through the Family Life They Built

*
p<>{color:#000;}. … and 31 MORE Fictional Fathers Who Share Their Lessons

 

Get your FREE copy here: [+ http://themoonlightingwriter.com/literary-life-hacks/+] — it’s my gift to you.


Pomodoro for Writers

How many times have you sat down at the keyboard to write your next blog post or work on your novel, but nothing happens? It's hard enough to find the time to write, but when you WASTE that time just staring at the screen, your hopes of becoming a successful author seem impossible. This short book gives you a quick, simple method to get your fingers moving and send your word count skyward. The Pomodoro technique is easy to implement, and it's been shown time and again to help EVERY type of author become more productive. Now it's your turn.

  • ISBN: 9781311430441
  • Author: Adam Hughes
  • Published: 2016-06-20 02:50:09
  • Words: 3816
Pomodoro for Writers Pomodoro for Writers