Managing Time with Tomatoes

Today was my first day trying to carve out a big chunk of time during the week to do what could loosely be called “my own” professional reading, writing, and research. Since I don’t always do well with open blocks of time (one of the reasons I know I’d never succeed in a PhD program), in thinking about doing this I necessarily wanted to figure out a way to structure the day.

Fate threw me a bone in a ProfHacker trail of items (from George Williams, Anastasia Salter, and Cory Bohon, walking back in time) mentioning the Pomodoro Technique, so I figured I’d give it a try. Though I’ll check back in after I’ve tried it a few times or even longer, I can say that near the end of my first day with it, it’s been remarkable.

Rather than remarkable in how it increased my productivity, however, its remarkability lay today in its exposure of just how undisciplined I am with my time when I don’t have externally imposed deadlines. Put perhaps a better way, it revealed how distractable I can be, how many Bright Shiny Objects I have competing for my attention, and how my workspace both helps and hinders me with its open plan. Clearly, I will need to list the distractions and attack them later (as a Pomodorian has detailed), and I’ll need to make some hard choices about whether I try to make this kind of day happen in my office space or whether I need to take my work elsewhere.