Thursday, April 30, 2015

How I use a Pomodoro Timer

Photo by Erato. Licensed under CC Attribution-Sharealike
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So, a few months ago I downloaded an app for my phone called "Pomodoro Timer Lite" by Tatkov Lab. But, like so often happens when I download apps for my phone, I used it a couple of times and then promptly forgot about it. Until this week.

The Pomodoro Technique is a way of increasing efficiency using a simple kitchen timer. Or, in my case, a virtual kitchen timer. According to the official website, there are strategies to use along with the timer to increase efficiency and to track how much time you've saved with the method.

But I like to use my Pomodoro Timer App for a different purpose.

Timing for Health

It's probably no secret that the writing life is an extremely sedentary one. I'd love to imagine that it involves a lot of biking riding to book parties and walking to the nearest cafe, but in reality what it requires is a lot of sitting. Lots and lots of sitting and writing and thinking and writing. And not much else.

So between the sedentary lifestyle that I've chosen, the weight gain that happens when I move out to a largely suburban town where driving is easier than walking, and the news that sitting is as bad for your health as smoking (whether or not that is just sensationalism), I am a bit concerned for my overall health.

That's where my Pomodoro Timer comes in. I've started working in 25 minute spurts. I sit and write for 25 minutes, working towards the completion of my chosen task (like writing this blog post! ha!), and when the timer rings I take my 5 minute break doing something that requires standing and walking. I water the plants. I deal with dishes. I sweep the floor. I organize my desk, my office, a book shelf, hang pictures. Whatever task I choose to do, I make sure it's something small and something that doesn't require sitting.

Every fourth break, in my app, is a 15 minute break. For those breaks, I can work in a little bit of exercise: like a 10 minute Tabata Routine (tons of different ones available on YouTube), a bit of stretching or yoga.

Results

I'm sure the long-term health effects are stunning, although don't look for those in the short-term. But the side effect of all this is that I can be more effective at my work, and my house is miraculously cleaner than it has ever been.

I find that I can concentrate on anything if it's only for 25 minutes at a time. I am no longer sitting at my computer for hours at a time, wondering, "what was I supposed to be doing again?" Everything gets done quickly, and during those five minute breaks I can focus on a very different task. And it means that the rest of my life: i.e. cleanliness, doesn't get neglected while I sit in front of my computer trying to focus on the next task.

Give it a Try!

All this to say: you should try it out! Listen to what I said about it, or don't. Follow the website's instructions, guides, and courses. Or don't. The main thing is to try it out and figure out a way that it works with your life and your schedule.

You can find the app on the Google Play Store or through the iOS App Store. Free and Easy!