I can’t seem to stop thinking about productivity and to-do lists. I’ve recently returned to work after taking 3 weeks off to deal with a bunch of family problems, only to find myself struggling to merge my May goals with my June goals. I admit, I’m not a big fan of procrastination, but if anything, I truly believe graduate school teaches you how to perfect it. The workload I’ve outlined for myself this week has done nothing but accelerate my stress level as I’ve found myself hitting one brick wall after another. Not because I cannot find the time to do the work, but rather because when I do, I can’t seem to concentrate.
My complaints on facebook led my uncle to recommend the Pomodoro Technique to me. I’ve never heard of it before, so a quick Google search led me up to date. Simply put, the technique is another one of those time-management self-help guides, aimed to “turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it.” Established in 1992, the Pomodoro Technique is largely directed towards professionals, but I’m sure grad students can benefit from its simple tools as well to improve the way their study skills.
To begin, all you need is a timer, a sheet of paper, and a pencil. After writing down your to-do list for the day, choose the topmost task from the list, then set the timer (the Pomodoro) for 25minutes. You have to work on that task until the timer goes off. Then mark an “X” on the to-do list, and take a short break (no more than 5 minutes), after which you work another 25 minutes on a different task (or even the same one). Ever 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
Honestly? I’ll try this technique and will most likely be thrilled by the productivity results…then will give up after a while. No offense to the technique, but when writing gets going…it’s difficult to stop! Or even want to stop! I do, however, like the idea (and benefits) for short-term goals.
If you’re interested, you can check out the (free!) downloadable book and more on www.pomodorotechnique.com