A little look into my schedule

In order to understand why GNDN and pomodoro techniques are necessary for me, I’m going to introduce a little bit about what my daily schedule looks like.

6:00 Wake up; shower; make breakfast and prepare lunch.
6:50 leave and catch bus to Taipei.
8:00 get to office (I take a 20 minute walk from the bus stop to the office for some exercise).
8:00-1:00 work work work (get coffee) work~
1:00-2:30 lunch! This is where I cram in any studying/editing/reading/etc. that I need to get done.
2:30-5:00 work work work
5:30 (20 minute walk back to the bus stop, have to keep that exercise going!) grab the bus back home.
6:30-10:30 get home, finish some chores, prep dinner and get to studying.
10:30 sleepy times! Though I occasionally go to sleep later as I need, depending on the day’s workout.

Weekends have been busy with some other chores I can’t get done during the week, like grocery shopping. I also spend time on the weekends going back to visit family, seeing my new niece. So, for me, being able to use something like the Pomodoro Technique is incredible, and keeps me focused when I need it the most.1

Why bring this all up? Because I hope this encourages you to think that, well, perhaps your day isn’t as busy as you think, and you can find the time to follow your dreams and passions!

Of course, on the other hand, this is where posts like PhD Lifestyle Guilt over at The Thesis Whisperer makes me look forward to doing a PhD in the future!

Footnotes

1. Copious amounts of coffee may or may not contribute to this as well!

GNDN and the Pomodoro Technique

GNDN is a favorite acronym of mine which stands for “Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing”. That’s kind of how I feel when I don’t have any specific set goals or timeboxing set in place. Instead, I wander around the internet for a bit and effectively don’t get anything done until I hit crisis time. I’m someone that really needs a set time to work on things, otherwise I often wander about without accomplishing anything useful.

Enter the pomodoro technique and Focus Booster.

What is the pomodoro technique? Well, simply stated, it is a technique in time management where periods of work are broken down to 25 minute chunks, with a short break in between.1 There’s more on Wikipedia here. There’s also an entire website devoted to the technique, including their own timer, but I don’t think there’s any need to get that complicated. Just find a cheap (free!) and simple timer and get to work. The less complicated the better the process works, as you’re not wasting so much time setting things up and planning your time.

My preferred pomodoro tool is Focus Booster.2 The time is set into nice default chunks of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break time. I find this to be the most suitable for my needs, and haven’t adjusted the time. The 25 minutes actually goes by pretty quick–and it’s hard to believe I’ve been working straight for so long with no distractions! The only downside is I often end up working into my break time, and sometimes need to make up for it (I feel this break time is important to keep your energy up for another 25 minute session).

When I first heard about the pomodoro technique, I figured it wouldn’t really work, and if I’m dedicated enough I should be able to focus on getting the task at hand done. Turns out I was quite wrong, and with a very busy schedule, this technique keeps me focused.

Has anyone else tried it? Does it work out well for them? Any other methods you’d recommend instead? Let me know in the comments below!

Footnotes

1. You’re also supposed to take a longer break after four or so sessions, but I end up continuing through as usual, oftentimes because I rarely have four hours to devote to pure focused work.
2. Focus Booster has recently had an update. I still prefer the older version, and while the new version is shiner, it still gets the job done. There’s also a huge slew of browser add-ons and websites. Of course, any old fashioned egg timer works just as well.