Of late, I have become a victim of my own deadlines; I realize I'm failing to manage my own deadlines. Working for yourself is both a blessing and a burden: A blessing because the only person you must answer to is you, a burden for the very same reason. When I find myself falling into these self-made traps, I am looking constantly for new, invigorating information on #productivity. Or how to enjoy the periods of non work and augment the production of time allotted to work rather than obsessing about all that needs to be done.
During these times, I look at my on-line 'friends' for inspiration, Seth Godin and #Daniel Pink never fail me. This morning while I was wasting time thinking about the fact that we are nearing the end of November and a major deadline I have set for myself is teetering at a precipice, about to smash into a million pieces, (I find, during these phases that everything seems heightened whether it be anxiety, fatigue or simply exaggerated drama my emotions have more power than they do normally) I discovered the #Pomodoro Technique in a recent newsletter from Dan Pink. With a sigh of relief, I changed into my workout clothes and went to sweat at the gym.
You have most likely heard or read about this, I had, several times. But all too frequently, these periods of #stress, #anxiety, catastrophizing (such a great word for these phases) cause memory leaks; all of the work patterns habits known to be effective go flying out the window leaving exhaustion in their place.
The Pomodoro technique reminds us of several basic lies we tell ourselves.
- Staring at a blank computer screen when you feel befuddled, cranky and tired is not working simply wastes your time.
- Multitasking is a fallacy; it does not exist.
- Creative work- like writing- must be done during our most productive times; for most of us, that is early in the morning, say the first ninety minutes to two hours.
- Breaks must be taken in order to get the best work done.
Perhaps you know this in some form or another; I did, sort of but the habits known as the Pomodoro Technique will help; they did my, until I forgot them. Here are the five steps:
- Decide on the task to be done-sounds like a no-brainer but not when you are flailing around.
- Set a timer for a certain amount of time; my writing requires longer than the suggested 25 minutes but generally, I break after 45 minutes.
- Work until the timer goes off.
- Take a short break, say 5 minutes or so.
- Continue working in increments like this, taking longer and longer breaks after each work session.
Celebrate the results: much more accomplished in less time and a lot less stress.
Lin Wilder, DrPH is a former Hospital Director. She now writes full-time.