Time is fleeting. Make the most of it.
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If you feel exhausted, distracted, burnt out, and overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Researchers estimated back in 2009 that the average American consumes about 34 Gigabytes of information a day. The number today is surely much higher. Our brains simply aren’t wired to process that much information. And when you add chores, self-care, work, commuting, dating, and childrearing to the mix, it’s a wonder any of us manages to keep it all together. And the less working memory we have, the longer things take to complete.
Have you ever felt like a zombie walking underwater as you drag yourself through your day? Yeah, me too. Until I discovered this strategy that totally changed my life.
A Strategy that Works WITH Your Brain, Not Against It
Before we get to the strategy, here are some things about the brain that you might not know:
1. Research suggests there is a link between physical exercise and improved creative thinking. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Staying in a sedentary state (like sitting at a desk all day) isn’t great for your body or your overall health. Even ten minutes of vigorous physical activity a day can improve your mood and cognition.
2. If you work in large, contiguous blocks of time, you will suffer from decision fatigue. This means your judgment calls will become more and more impaired over time. And you’ll be at greater risk for making decisions based on outside influences (like how hungry, tired, or cranky you are).
3. Daydreaming is actually pretty important. Research suggests it’s a way for our brains to freeform problem solve.
4. On that note, something as funny and seemingly idle as doodling can improve your workflow, too! It actually helps you improve focus and absorb concepts quicker. (I don’t know about you, but I always doodled in my notes at school. When I became a teacher, I allowed my doodler students to do the same without reprimand. Because it works.)
5. Short work breaks like this can be really good for our focus and productivity, according to research. Which brings me to the method that transformed my creative process and increased my productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique
(Yes, Like the Tomato)
Invented in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the time management technique gained traction in the 1990s. In 2006, he published a free PDF version of his book, The Pomodoro Technique, that was downloaded over 2 million times. In 2013, he made a hardcover version available for purchase, and an updated version is set to hit bookshelves in August 2018. This video from the strategy from the Cirillo Company website that provides a brief overview of the technique:
The company even offers Pomodoro Certification and Pomodoro Trainer Licensing if you want to bring your project management skills up to the next level.
But what’s lovely about this strategy is its simplicity and accessibility. After all, the whole concept began with a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. There are plenty of free sites and apps available around this technique, but the one I’m using as I type this is Marinara Timer. It provides several options from the standard Pomodoro sequence (25 minutes of activity, 5 minutes of break time with a 15-minute break after every four pomodoros) to a more flexible custom timer. There are also a variety of fun sound effects to choose from. My personal favorite is the ‘Yipee!’ but there are 21 other options including no sound at all.
If you want a deeper understanding of the methodology and how it can improve your busy life, I recommend reading the book.
Get It Now and Save Oodles of Time Later: