Keeping Calm and Focused: An Experiment in Time Management

I woke up at 8h30am today. That’s about 3 hours off my usual time. I also didn’t do the dishes last night, also strange. No night journal either, and no morning routine. Whether I decided to give myself a break, or legitimized not doing the things I “need” to do, well that remains to be seen. Probably at around 5h30, when my brain is completely fried, I’ll reproach myself for not sticking to the plan. But until then, I’m quite pleased to have a day. And I’m trying something new…

We started using the kitchen timer years ago, right as I had discovered How To Talk So Kids Will Listen. The timer was used for transition times, like “we’re LEAVING IN 15 MINUTES, 10 MINUTES, 5 MINUTES, 2 MINUTES, WHY ARE YOU STILL NAKED???”.

I’m a HUGE fan of the kitchen timer and over the years I’ve been known to use it on myself and in family meetings… I could spend hours cleaning (actually that’s a lie, I hate cleaning), but if I limit myself to 15 minute speed tidy up, I’m more likely to get it done and be able to move onto another task.  Working from home is hard, everyone knows that.  And when you have not much willpower, it can be even harder. I could waste away the day (and have been known to) without much to show for it save for a few emails and a concept board but as Cyryl Northcol Parkinson says:

“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

And if you’ve ever been on a board of committees, you know that if you don’t cap your meetings, they WILL LAST FOR HOURS. Same goes for online research or anything at all really. Working within a time constraint often helps you produce more and better quality content.

Driving back from dropping off the boys, I listened to a new-to-me podcast called Raise Your Hand and Say Yes. In this episode, Tiffany Han talks with a fellow co- creative entrepreneur about habits, fear, resistance.. bref, all the stuff that I’ve been quite curious about. The big takeaway for me was:

What would happen if you scheduled your whole day in 25 minutes slots?

Well that’s what the Pomodoro Technique suggests we all do and that’s what I’m trying today:

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, this is a time management approach that asks you to segment your tasks in 25 minute increments including a 5 minute break. Using the Parkinson Theorem, Cirillo attacked the structure of office efficience by setting up this system of intense activity and reward. After 4 Pomodoros, you get a 15 minute break. Sounds a bit fussy. BUT, I love the idea of forcing myself to do just 25 minutes of activity X and then giving myself a break.


Woke up, got dressed, 25 minutes of dishes.

5 minute Instagram Break (not recommended because the whole point of taking a break is to relax so that your brain can reconstitute the information it received  during the active portion of your time. But since my brain turns to mush when I do dishes, I totally legitimize the stimulation of Instagram. Rules Schmules as my sister would say.

Drove into Rigaud for a girls’ breakfast with Pia

Came home, 25 minute writing time (oh hello, blog post which I will write in 2 Pomodoros!)

5 minute Sun Salutation Break

bunny yoga{karmastatic}

25 minute gardening

5 minute painting break

25 minute email, work, follow ups…

And so on…

I used it yesterday during my “difficult” period, 4-7pm and it really helped me stay focused when I tried to flounder to my phone or flit from one task to another.  I can see this being super effective to someone working at a desk job, or someone who has meticulous tendencies. For me, the idea of only cleaning for 25 minutes, leaves me tickled pink!

Now the downsides are a) if you are trying to do things with kids at home, you will never have 25 minutes of uninterrupted time, unless you plug them on the screen. And we did that with Pia yesterday.  So today is a screenless day and I’m more or less setting her up in an activity during my 25 minute period. It’s definitely a little more  “challenging” (read the tense tone of my voice), but it’s what’s happening today and I’m trying hard to not get frustrated if I’m interrupted.

So there you have it, my 2 Pomodoro Blog post! I think this is something that’s fairly wide spread, specially among moms since your time is always segmented anyways, but I’d love to hear what you think! Have ever implemented it successfully in an area of your life?


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