One of the biggest challenges in life is to cut the procrastination and get things done. In a connected world this get harder as helpful family and friends keep posting all kind of stuff going from cats slapping dogs, ridiculously funny stuff, photos of beautiful places, interesting articles and so on. You end up following these data streams instead of getting anything done.
When preparing for VCP I was looking for a time management techniques that allowed me to really focus on studying and avoid procrastination, including time spent on social media. In my quest for this I found the “Pomodoro technique” to be working quite well.
The main interest of this technique is to enforce 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break time to avoid distraction/loss of interest. You also hold a “log” of things that could disrupt you during the 25 minutes focusing time. So basically you’ll log things such as remembering you need to stop to the post office, write an email or recall someone. It’s about prioritizing as much as possible.
Because I don’t have a graduated tomato or a kitchen timer egg, I use two tools to help me enforce the time:
- Strict Workflow (formerly Strict Pomodoro), a Google Chrome plugin which strictly enforces what you CAN or CANNOT do. By default the rule is to allow everything except a preset list of websites to block that can be edited:
It’s fairly simple to use and customizable. When a work session is in progress, opening a website that is blocked will redirect you to a nice red tomato page that encourages you to keep focusing. You also won’t be able to edit the settings when a work session is in progress. Patience is a virtue 🙂
- When not at the computer (e.g. using Kindle, reading a document/book/white paper) i use the Wind-up Timer iPhone app (formerly it was named “Pomodoro Timer”, but it looks like the creators of Pomodoro saw the potential of their technique and took matters in hands to protect their brand – but their iPhone app is still in the making). It does just what you would expect of a kitchen timer: you set the timer to whatever you want and it keeps ticking until you’re done with a nice “ding!” sound. A good thing is that you can add a description to the activity you’re doing, so you can keep a list of what was presumably done in the last sessions. Oh another great feature is that it runs in background, it allows you to listen to music, and you can disable the nice but annoying ticking sound 🙂
Because Time Management also needs a little help, here’s what else I did so far to help myself focus on studying:
- Disable my Facebook account (a hard choice, since I live abroad and that was my main way of contacting my family). Immediate results as I don’t spend time anymore browsing stuff of less importance. Frustration: I used to vent out a lot about world politics and now I just have to keep this for myself.
- Reduce gaming time (this has worked well so far, bu I do keep playing from time to time just to vent out).
I’m curious to hear your feedback on this. How do you study, what proved best for you?
Hope you enjoy the post, as I’m off for another 25 minutes of Pomodoro. I will miss you guys!