Writers, have you discovered the Pomodoro technique? #amwriting #timemanagement

Are you a full time writer?

I’m not, so like a lot of others, I have to fit my writing time around my full time business. And my business is VERY full time – I train and judge competition dressage horses at National and International level. It’s a fabulous job, but very time consuming, not to mention sometimes exhausting.

This is me in my day job

When people glibly tell me that there is always time to be found in the work day, I know they have NO idea what my life is like. I can often be on the road by 7am, and not home until 10pm, having been either driving or working the entire time. Please tell me where I am supposed to find time to write in that schedule?

I’m not complaining, no sir, I’m just making a point. Not everybody’s life lends itself to a regular writing routine. Mine certainly doesn’t.

So what is my point?

Well, I recently followed a short writing course, largely because it had a great module on plotting (guess who is trying to learn more about plotting vs pantsing?). But what it also had, was a section on time management.

My first thought was, ‘here we go again, I’ve heard it all before’.

But I hadn’t! This course introduced me to the POMODORO TECHNIQUE.

If you haven’t come across it yet, it is a time management approach developed in the late 1980s, and named after the Pomodoro kitchen timer.

 The reason I found this so useful?

Because I have always felt that there was no point starting to write unless I had at least a clear hour available. Anything less than that seemed to me to be unproductive, and I hate to get started only to find I have to give up.

The nub of the Pomodoro technique, though, is that you work for exactly 25 minutes. Not more, and not less.

If you have that magic hour free, then you can fit two sessions in, with a small gap in the middle for coffee making or similar.

I guess, now I think about it, that this is at least partially based on the knowledge that we (humans) can only concentrate fully for 20 minutes at a time, so the 25 minutes stretches that just a touch, followed by the short break, and then back for another 20 (or 25) minutes work.

What it has meant for me, personally, is that my next book is coming along much quicker than previous ones, because I can often find 25 minutes spare, where I might have to wait days to find one of those precious hour gaps.

It has enabled me to give myself permission to write for just 25 minutes, and without guilt that I didn’t get that full hour of work in.

Crazy, huh? But it’s working for me.

I’ve finally realised that my one hour rule is yet another of those dreaded procrastinations we writers are often so prone to.

How about all of you, how do you manage your time?

Even if you are a full time writer, with all the guff that goes with it these days, how do you arrange your productive writing sessions?

Does anyone else have a favoured minimum writing time?

Deborah Jay

Mystery, magic and mayhem

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41 thoughts on “Writers, have you discovered the Pomodoro technique? #amwriting #timemanagement

  1. I think this is a great technique, Deborah and Marcia. I heard of it first from Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. I guess my teaching career helped me with scheduling time for different commitments. I’d do better if I had more time available.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think this sounds wonderful, Debby, especially for those, like you, who have such busy schedules with their “day jobs.” For myself, I’d probably have to use it in reverse. I’m at my computer (or I was until Hurricane Irma came to call) from about 7:30am until Mark gets home from work at 6:30pm. Often, I go back after dinner to write some more. What falls through the cracks for me is not writing time, but household chores! Laundry, dishes, and vacuuming are ignored until they become towering heaps of dirty clothes or dust bunnies. I need a way to force myself to stop writing and put in 25 minutes of cleaning up around this place. And my beautiful garden was in dire straits when Irma finished it off. 😦

    But using this method, I could set the timer when I make a cup of tea, and spend 25 minutes sorting through various chores. Done even twice a day would make a huge difference in the things I’ve been neglecting. Yeah, it might not be what most would use the timer for, but it could work for me. (Every day, I’m afraid someone is going to show up at the front door asking if they can film a Febreze commercial! 😯 )

    Thanks for sharing this, Debby. And I must say, you do have a fabulous day job!!! You always look so elegant while going about it, too. 😀 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Marcia, that’s a great idea to use it in that way – I do know what you mean about chores. When I was writing text books with a publisher’s deadline, I would ignore everything. That meant that at the end of 10 months, when I handed the manuscript in and before it came back for edits, I had 10 months worth of chores to catch up on!
      Thank goodness I’m not house proud, nor do invite people around unless they know how to take me!!!
      Oh, and I don’t always look like that when I’m working – mud and rat’s tail hair are a frequent occurrence during bad weather 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • You mean we should be clean and well groomed while writing??? OMG, I’m doomed. I’m often still in my nightgown by noon, and haven’t seen a hairbrush at all! I’ll look up, realize I’m hungry, grab something to eat and put on some clothing for the afternoon, in case anyone comes to the door, and that’s it. It ain’t a pretty sight, but hey, I’m off in the mountains with Rabbit, so what do I care? 😀

        Liked by 3 people

  3. What a fantastic idea. Thanks so much for sharing, Marcia! I will add the link for this post to our writer’s resources links over on Story Empire on Friday! 🙂 For definite, I need to break my ‘at least an hour’ rule 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I asked Debby if she had anything she wanted to share with us while I’m so swamped with hurricane stuff, and this was her contribution. It’s a great post, isn’t it? And it would be lovely to have it included on Friday. It’s a super idea, even if I’ll probably use it in reverse. 😀 Thanks for passing it along, Harmony! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Yep, I’ve heard of it. My writing group were discussing procrastination – we all do it – and ways whcih might help. Someone talked about the pomodoro, one uses a 500 word a day target which she enters on a spreadsheet and someone else said they foudn the most useful was the 15-minute writer. Again, you use a timer but only set for 15 minutes. You can re-set it if you’re working well but if not you at least feel you have achieved what you set out to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can see how that might work for some, but I think I’d find 15 minutes too short. The 25 minutes seems to work for me really well, and I do think its linked to the 20 minute limit on the human ability to concentrate solidly on one thing.
      Perhaps I should split the difference between your 15 minutes and my 25 – that way I’d be spot on the 20!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course, if I’ve got into the writing there’s no need to stop after 15 minutes (or 20 or 25) but when I can’t and it’s going really badly – each word being dragged out – it’s such a relief when that buzzer goes off and I can feel righteous that I’ve done my time!

        Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m going to try this right now. Thanks for the tip, Deborah!

    What works best for me, though, is doing sprints with other writers. When I’m working with a group and doing that, I get so much writing done. I think I need that commitment to others to stick with the task and not let other things distract me.

    Sadly I don’t have anyone to do sprints with right now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kassandra, I hope it works as well for you as it is doing for me.
      I’ve not tried working in sprints, probably because my time is so randomly available, though I do work with a writer’s group and that gives me a self-imposed deadline to work to, when I’ve volunteered a piece for critiquing.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Writers, how do you manage your time? Have you discovered the Pomodoro technique? #TimeManagement #amwriting | deborahjay

  7. Great post, Deborah! I love the Pomodoro technique; in fact, I’m using it to manage my writing and blogging time right now! I’ve long suspected that I might have ADD because I get so easily distracted. I’d never get nearly enough writing done otherwise! Glad it’s helping you be more productive too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased to hear I’m not the only one finding it useful 😀
      The distraction thing is another aspect it’s helping me to control – I can make myself concentrate for the full 25 minutes without permitting distractions to take a hold, probably because I know that at the end of that time I will be ‘allowed’ to deal with them.
      Aren’t we human beings strange creatures?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not familiar with this specific technique, but I’ve heard of similar approaches, It’s great you”ve found something that works for you. I definitely think that is the key. For me it’s a standing date of carving out several hours on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve been dong that for over 10 years now and it’s how I manage my writing,
    Some weeks (and deadlines) require working in additional time, but i’s amazing how much I can accomplish with a regular writing day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh how I’d love to have a regular schedule!
      Actually, on second thoughts, it’s the random nature of my working life that keeps me on my toes and loving my work, so perhaps that wouldn’t work for me. Glad it does for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this Deb. I happen to have one of these pomodoro thingees so I may just give it a go. I normally structure my day each evening before with a list of what must be completed with writing time marked off. I’m usually quite good at sticking to my self-imposed deadlines, but I may give this a go. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great idea! I’ve never done this before but I think it would really help me with procrastination….how can I not manage to fit in 25 extra minutes? I think I’ll try this tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Curated Content for Writers—October 6th | Story Empire

  12. I’ve been putting off working on editing the draft of my first book for a couple of years now. Part of me is a part of who you’ve been – waiting for a block of time to write it. Don’t think that block of time will ever come given that I have a full time job to pay the bills, but finding a around half an hour a day may work. That said, I am the one who really gets into writing and gets the best ideas after being at it for hours and hours on end, lol 😀 But sometimes change is what we need to get ourselves going. Thank you for the inspirational post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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