Marathon runners don’t prepare for marathons by running for miles. They start small and build up. It’s that muscle memory thing. Some of our writing assignments can be big and daunting. So we attempt to write only to let ourselves be interrupted many times in the course of an hour.
Meet the Pomodoro Technique. This procrastination busting approach can work great for writers. If GTD works for you (Pomodoro doesn’t replace GTD — it only contains a small part of GTD), there’s no reason to try something different or change it unless you think it’ll work better. After all, if we stick with status quo, we forgo opportunities to find ways to do things better, faster and more efficiently.
If you’re on a roll and can’t stop writing; by all means, don’t! The Pomodoro gives you an option when you’re struggling to write at all or without interruptions. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. Stop.
Focus on one task at a time as the following steps quickly show you how the Pomodoro works:
- Pick a task and do that task for 25 minutes straight.
- Take a short break — about five minutes.
- Work on the task again or pick another one to do for another 25 minutes.
- Repeat until you’ve done this four times.
- Take a longer break.
While I don’t struggle to get work done, I gave it a shot and it worked well by the second round of 25 minutes. I gave in to my powerful urge to check email during the first one — I’m gosh awful about that.
The tasks can include doing research for a story, writing an article for X publication, blogging for Y client, doing your marketing for the day, completing your administrative work, replying to emails. You get it. Just stick with one thing for those 25 minutes. You begin with a sprint and work you way up to completing the marathon of an article, book, whatever without feeling like, “Oh, man. I have 24 miles to go.” Instead, “I’m going to do two miles. No problem.”
In a way, you’ll build your muscle memory. You complete these tasks in short, doable bites. Maybe you’ll find that this works so well for you that you’ll stretch the time or go on an writing spree. (Remember to take a computer break for the sake of your eyes and hands.)
Of course, you might be anti-GTD and everything and it works for you like it does for Jamie.
How do you complete your writing tasks or projects?