Ever feel pressure to complete a task as time ticks by on a stopwatch? Our focus can be intense when you add the element of time.
In the name of research, I devoted a day to using the Pomodoro method. Will I ever be able to finish a project again? I work from home and thanks to coronavirus so do my husband and 2 kids. Oh yes, and our giant Labradoodle Rudy.
Not the most productive environment.
Here’s how my day went:
First Pomodoro 6:28 am
This was a late start. I usually start my mornings at 6 am, but we spent the night before soaking in the last few bits of summer vacation. And you guys know how I feel about sleep.
The second stumbling block was my phone didn’t charge overnight. I had planned on using Focus Keeper on my phone, but that wasn’t an option.
A quick google search brought me to Tomato-Timer It was easy to use working for my desktop. I loved the little countdown timer that stayed in the tab at the top of my screen. I glanced at the number at the top of my screen when my focus drifted. Only 5 more minutes and then I get to take a break. OK, I can focus for 5 more minutes.
Check it out:
Don’t laugh, but I spent my first Pomodoro session on the Nordstrom Sale. It was the first day I gained access to purchase the items on my wish list, and you know the good stuff goes FAST. Unfortunately, about ⅓ of the items on my list had already sold out. I always use this sale to stock up on essential higher-priced items like shoes, jackets, and denim... especially for the kids.
I spent the 25-minute block looking to fill the holes in my cart. The timer went off before I had checked out. I quickly finished shopping, and that was the end of the damage to our bank account for the day.
The 5-minute break between focus sessions felt long. I stood up and walked around. It was hard to not have my focus pulled into a project around the house. I didn’t want to fill my coffee mug because I only drink one cup in the morning.
Second Pomodoro 6:58 am
Having completed my first task of the day (the NSale) I decided to use this time block to check email. I never let checking emails be the first thing I do in the morning.
In full disclosure, I think I worked for about 15 minutes then nature called. I tried to fight it but had to push pause on the timer. I prefer not to ignore my body. I know you’ve all done this so I’m going to just own it. I continued checking emails right there on the throne.
Twenty-five minutes is not enough time to get through all of my emails. SIGH.
Third Pomodoro 7:28 am
I ran my experiment on a Monday and it’s the day I dedicate to networking, so I spent my third Pomodoro networking. I spend my networking time interacting with key influencers, engaging clients on social media, and contributing to chosen Facebook groups. These are all tasks I truly enjoy, and I switch easily from one thing to another if I lose focus. This time block FLEW BY!!!
The only goal is set for networking is that I dedicate myself to engagement for at least an hour (2 Pomodoro sessions) a week.
At the break of this session, I took the dog for a run before the day got too hot.
Fourth Pomodoro 9:50 am
As I got ready to head out for my run, my house woke up. It was important to be Mom and connect with the family. That combined with the time to shower quickly consumed over 2 hours without a single focus session.
This session finished my hour of networking. Now hubby was also in our shared office, so my quiet vanished. I cranked white noise in my Beats to drown out his conference calls.
Mondays and Fridays are my appointment days. I had a massage booked at 11 am as a reward to myself. As the minutes ticked away on my timer I noticed my focus fell away from my task and became more concerned about getting myself out the door. I had to finish blow drying my hair (it’s no small task) so I ended this focus block about 5 minutes early to get it done.
Fifth Pomodoro 4:40 pm
The time between 10:30 am and 4:40 pm was spent on the following:
I spent this time block meal planning for the week. I make myself available for the family after 3:30 each workday, so this block was full of frequent interruptions. At one point, my son stopped the timer on my phone (now recharged). It’d be nice if the app communicated with apple watch so I could cut the tether to my phone.
At break time, we had dinner.
Sixth Pomodoro 6:20 pm
I spent my final focus session closing out emails and reviewing my calendar for the next day. I cut this session about 10 minutes short because hubby finally succumbed to my request to take measurements for a diet we were starting. I had been sweetly requesting (not at all nagging) for him to do this with me for a few days, so I jumped on the chance when he finally said yes.
What did I learn from my Pomodoro experiment?
My day of research paid off by forcing myself to be present for blocks of time. Those timers will continue to light up my screen when I’m working in the office. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried this technique before.
You don't have to chose between your personal and professional life. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.