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The Pomorodo Technique

Book cover - Practical Creative Writing Exercises by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about illustrating an article about using a pomorodoI have never heard of the Pomorodo technique until quite recently but then until quite recently, I’ve never really had problems focusing on my writing.

I love writing and I have learned that I need to prioritize my writing in order to feel good.

So, I hate admitting this, but the last few months have been overwhelming and I have been finding it difficult to maintain focus on my writing.

FEELING OVERWHELMED

This feeling of being overwhelmed is mostly because of health problems. Over the last few years, I have suffered from time to time with pain in my ribs.

I was told by my doctor that it was Tietze’s syndrome and that it would go away of its own accord. It did come and go, so although it was painful I could cope, knowing it wasn’t permanent.

However, there came a time when the rib pain returned, increased and became so sharp that the only way I could function was to smother my ribs in pain relief gel, take painkillers and keep a hot-water bottle by my side – literally.

The pain didn’t go away either and as well as being painful during the day it also kept me awake at night.

It took a long time for me to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia and an equally long time to find the best approach to managing the problem.

I eventually got lucky and found a rheumatologist whose approach was a mix of medical and holistic pain management.

This involves pain killing injections into the ribs, medication and a form of meditation that particularly focuses on pain relief.

This mixture has at last worked and I am very happy to say that those sharp debilitating pains have become mere shadows of their former selves.

HOW THE POMORODO TECHNIQUE HELPED ME

So what on earth has all this got to do with the Pomodoro technique, you ask? Well, while all this has been going on, work has been mounting up and I was getting seriously behind.

But before I tell you how learning the Pomodoro technique helped me, there’s a bit more of my story to come.

Some of you have been visiting this site for a few years and so will already know that I have had a couple of serious accidents.

However, I recovered so successfully from double displaced fractures in my leg that I was able to resume gardening and hill walking.

I recovered so well that I didn’t expect mobility to become a problem for me again. Last summer I even managed to walk a good twelve miles per day along the beautiful coast of West Cork, here in Ireland.

So, six months ago, I was shocked to find myself waking up one morning with my right foot so painful that I was barely able to place it on the ground.

A walker on a shoreline - illustrating an article about the pomerado technique

The only way I could walk was to place my weight on my heel and the side of my foot. My right leg and ankle is the one that was broken and is the site of three surgeries so you can guess I was a bit worried.

Again, it took a while to get the correct diagnosis and I spent months getting X-rays, MRI scans, waiting for appointments etc.

Finally, I got to see the right consultant who diagnosed me with Metatarsalgia caused by osteoarthritis which was a direct result of my previous injuries.

The treatment for this is joint injections, orthotics and physiotherapy. Okay, it’s a pain in the neck or foot in my case, but at least now that the treatment has begun I feel a lot more confident in my future.

I have been told I will gradually be able to build up my walking until I am up there in my beloved Burren hills again.

 

STILL OVERWHELMED

However, and this is where the Pomodoro technique comes into the story. Because of all this medical stuff, I am behind with my work and I am not sure that I will ever catch up.

Since I was just about keeping up with my workload before this I have to tell you that I have become totally overwhelmed and I am now looking at drastically refining, delegating some of my work.

This is not just a time management problem. By the way, if this is a problem for you then I have written about easy time management tips here.

I can cope with my own time and task management but what I found really difficult was focus.

FOCUS IS EVERYTHING

When it comes to writing focus is everything. I couldn’t fully focus and concentrate on my writing. My mind kept anxiously drifting to all the other tasks I hadn’t managed to even start – never mind finish.

This is where the Pomodoro technique comes in. At last – she’s getting to the point, you say. Well, I did say the problem was focus.

THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE

So what is the Pomorodo Technique?

The pomorodo technique is quite simply a way of managing your time.  The method was developed by a man called Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s.

The word Pomorodo is drawn from the tomato-shaped Pomorodo Kitchen timer Cirillo used to time his work.

Decide on the task you are going to focus on, set a timer for 25 minutes, work solely on your designated task for 25 minutes, then stop and take a five-minute break.

Three easy steps.

1. Decide on the task you want to focus on.

2. Set a timer for 25 minutes and write until it stops.

3 Take a break for 5 minutes.

You can refine this technique, add other steps, and integrate it with other systems if you like, but personally, I find it helps to keep it simple.

If you would like more details about the technique you will find it here on Wikipedia

There are various apps you can download. At the moment I am using Be Focused which is cheap and cheerful and available here.

There are many Pomodoro apps available but I chose this one because of its simplicity and the fact that I can give each task a name and tick it off when complete.

 

Doing this has helped me to figure out roughly how long it takes me to complete particular tasks and so allocate time realistically. Also, I do like ticking boxes.

Alternatively, you can just turn on a kitchen timer, or use a timer on your phone.

POMORODO POMORODI

Using the technique has made me aware of how quickly 25 minutes flies by and more importantly, how much I can get done when I focus purely on a single task.

The 5-minute breaks give the mind a breather and I use it to do a few minutes of stretches or make a cup of tea.

Six tomatoes In White Bowl illustrating an article about the pomerado technique

Apart from losing so much time to medical appointments I have also found myself working a bit more slowly.

This has been quite a shock to me as I have always been a really fast worker. Nevertheless, I have had to accept the change.

So I have become a bit more realistic about how long each of my tasks now takes. So, for example, to write 1000 words may now take three pomorodo, (or pomorodi which is the plural of pomorodo,) or 75 minutes, or more.

ACCEPTANCE

Prior to this, I could easily write that amount in an hour. Using the technique helped me accept the changes and this acceptance has calmed my mind.

In turn, this is helping me regain my earlier focus and speed. In fact, the knowledge that my focus, as well as my health, are both continuing to improve has helped me a great deal.

I hope you will try the pomerado technique and that it helps you. I think it is worth repeating that it is amazing how much you can get done in those 25-minute slots when you allow your mind those little 5 minutes breaks.

Try it and see.

As always, I wish you the very best of luck with your writing.

Grace

P.S. All the information on the site is provided free and I love encouraging others to write. If you’ve got a free moment I would really appreciate it if you would comment, like, or share. Oh and I always allow a Pomorodo, or two, to reply to comments.


PRACTICAL CREATIVE WRITING EXERCISES

Book cover - Practical Creative Writing Exercises by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about illustrating an article about using a pomorodo

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2 Responses to The Pomorodo Technique

  1. Ali Isaac March 31, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    Gosh Grace I’m so sorry to hear all this, and so sorry I never took the time to find out. Was wrapped up in my own stuff, I guess. But you sound very positive, and I think you are amazing!

    • Grace April 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

      Hi Ali,
      Thanks so much it is great to hear from you. I think we’re both kept pretty busy these days 🙂 but as long as we can keep getting the words on the page we’ll be okay.
      Take care
      Grace

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