Thursday, 5 November 2009

A Quiet Pomodoro

I’ve written before about the simple but brilliant Pomodoro Technique. It is a more fun version of a technique that I have used for years which I prosaically named the Stopwatch Technique. It’s not difficult to see why one is now a world-wide phenomenon and the other is, well, a red stop watch in my drawer.

For those not familiar with either technique, the idea is basically that you concentrate on one task at a time, and work for a set period of time, stopping when time is up to take a short break. The Pomodoro Technique uses a wonderfully bright red tomato timer (beautifully red and wonderfully tomato-like). The Stopwatch Technique uses a, eerrrr, stopwatch.

Both are pretty low tech and both are effective. The difference is that the beautiful bright red tomato timer ticks rhythmically as you work and then shrills out with a loud ring when time is up. Without fail I jump out of my skin when this happens, as does everyone else in the office. I’ve tried putting it in a drawer or under a sweater to muffle the sound, but the deeper I concentrate, but more shocked I am when the timer rings out. Perhaps just an indication of how successful the technique is.

So quietly and without fuss I have been going back to the stop watch. It’s not as pretty (although it is a very groovy red) but it is SILENT. It doesn’t tick, but it does remind me that time is passing and encourages me to focus. It also makes me very aware of time and how I use it.

There are no web sites for the stop watch technique, no groups on Facebook or Tweets on Twitter, but it is a gentle, effective and most of all quiet way of reminding me to value my time and focus on the task in hand. Not bad for the £1.99 I paid for it about 12 years ago.

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