Yes, I know it’s supposed to be “One POTATO, two POTATO” and so on. Kids in Delaware aren’t that weird. I did learn the right way to determine who is out.
But in my world, tomatoes are more useful.
To be specific: Pomodoros help me conquer the dreaded writer’s procrastination. And I think it might help you, too. Now, I hear you asking, “What the heck is a Pomodoro?”
It’s a technique developed by Italian Francesco Cirillo, and it’s easy to use. First, you choose a large task, like drafting a novel, and figure out how long it may take to do that task. You may have to re-chunk into smaller bits. Currently, I commit to 2.5 hours of writing a day.
Next, you choose a block of time, typically 25 minutes. During that time, you commit to doing just ONE task, like writing or outlining or marketing, whatever mountain you need to climb.
The typical symbol for the Pomodoro Technique is a tomato. In fact, it is the Italian word for tomato. (Hence, my title.) Why did Cirillo choose that? Beats me. But I can tell you one thing. It works.
When I am dreading writing–for whatever reason–I tell myself, “It’s just 25 minutes. Heck, I can do anything for 25 minutes.” (Y’all, I was a teacher. It’s not until the one hour mark that it starts to feel overwhelming. 25 minutes is easy peasy.)
I set my timer and away I go. The trick is to STAY FOCUSED. No distractions, no social media, no child demanding a snack. (Okay, that might be hard to ignore, but if they’re old enough, bribe them with an episode of Scooby-Doo, Blue’s Clues, whatever their jam is. They’re usually 30 minutes.) I even have an app that blocks social media for me. How cool is that? And it was free.
You can track Pomodoros manually using a kitchen timer and a piece of paper. I even found planner stickers and printable on Etsy, if that’s more appealing to you.
This technique is intuitive. Before I found the “official” version, I set the timer on my Fitbit for 20 minutes and worked until the timer buzzed. I prefer the app because it tracks how much I have done (or not done), and it sends me reminders, not that I need them. But, it DOES let me look at my phone and have a ready made excuse to get home and write.
After 25 minutes, I get a five minute break, then I begin another 25 minute session. After 4 Pomodoros, I take a longer break, 15 to 20 minutes.
Do I always get all 2.5 hours in? No, but I usually get something done. And a word at a time builds a novel or poem or blog post.
Give it a try.
(P. S. This blog post took 2 Pomodoros to write, polish, and edit.)