Pomodoro sprints

For a number of years now I’ve worked out the best way for me to write is in short bursts. I used to try and do 45 minutes BIC (bum in chair) then 15 minutes away from writing – preferably out of the chair. As there is always housework to be done I’d often do that for the break. And lets be honest, knowing it’s only 15 minutes of housework makes it tolerable *grin*.

This  technique (which I have always followed but didn’t know had a name) was developed by Francesco Cirillo. It’s essentially a time management skill where a timer is used to focus work into short sprints (his method recommends 25 minutes) followed by a short break. He called it Podomoro after a tomato-shaped timer he used to time his work.

For me this technique works brilliantly. I can stay focused for a short period of time knowing I get a break after that – and the deadline pushes me to have something to show for it.

At the moment I’m trying a different structure until I reach my daily minimum word count of 500 words. I spend 10 minutes planning what I’m writing (rereading previous pages, making notes etc) followed by a 20 minute sprint. I then take a 5 minute break from the computer (no screen time – I walk around and stretch), then do another 20 minute sprint. The last 10 minutes are spent making notes and taking another break. Either way, I’m still Pomodoring.

Have you hear of the Podomoro technique? Does it work for you or are you willing to give it a try? I’d love to hear others experiences with it.

11 comments on “Pomodoro sprints

  1. Ooo I’ve never heard of this! When I write, I just sit and write. At least for my blog. If I’m writing a story then sometimes I take breaks but I like to just get in the flow of things and not be distracted. Especially if I’m in a groove. If I’m stuck I put it away for a day or so.

    • I’ve found I get much better word counts writing this way. If I really get into the groove I can keep going, but taking the break helps.

  2. Thank you for reminding me of this, AJ! I have used a timer in the past (at my day job) and will do so again. It is very effective. I need it more for BOC (bum outta chair) reminders than BIC though. I tend to freeze in position and that is bad for my neck and shoulders. So the alarm reminds me to get up, walk around, stretch, change positions.

    Deb

    • That makes sense, Deb, and I think you are right. It’s the outta chair bit that is more important. I do tend to sit for too long otherwise and then my body regrets it too.

  3. Haven’t heard of this technique but I’ll be checking the comments. I do try to take a break every 15-30 minutes. As you say, walk around do something away from the screen. I think it helps a lot.

    • I was introduced to it about ten years ago (but we just called it “sprinting” then). Friends and I would sit in a private chat room (told you it was years ago) and we’d say “go” and we’d write for 30 mins and then check back in. Great incentive to be focused because we reported on our word counts. You didn’t want to have to say it was only a few words. Sprinting (or Pomodoring) regularly boosts my word count and I can get very high numbers in a short time.

  4. I think I have heard of it. It’s employed in classrooms all the time. I find that if I put a timer on the kids for some assignment, they can focus better (it depends). At least, they know they’ll be responsible for something afterwards.

    I have not tried it for my own writing, though.

    • I use it for my eldest Barbarian. He can find himself overwhelmed with assignments. Breaking it down into little bits helps him.

  5. Sounds a lot more organised than anything I do! I’ve been going to the library to do my writing because I can focus better when I have no excuse to get up and do something else.

  6. A quick note…I’ve been travelling (school holidays) and having major tech difficulties. Sorry! Hoping this lets me post a comment as a general commenter. I will be home again late in the week and things will be back to normal I hope (and I will be able to also catch up on reading your blogs). Sometimes technology drives me bonkers 8(

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