Do you have a ton of things to do? Or maybe it's just one of those lack-of-focus days? Today's Really Good Idea is to try the Pomodoro technique. The basic rules are that you will set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on one task, and ONE task only, for that 25 minutes, then take a five minute break regardless if you are done or not. Then jump back in for another 25 minutes. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break. The website has a cheat sheet that spells out the "rules" of the Pomodoro, but you can practice this without the book or worksheets. Just pick a task, set a timer, limit distractions (close email), and focus.
This is intended as a work and study method. In fact the cheat sheet suggests that we should just enjoy free time, but I've been taking personal liberties with the original intention and have found that it adapts well to nearly everything:-One Pomodoro is just enough time to get in a high-intensity cardio blast workout like a Tabata or GetFitsu.
-It's enough time to cut up and repackage veggies for the upcoming week.
-My expedition adventure racing friends tell me it's a perfect amount of time for a nap during a long race.
-It takes the daunting task of cleaning the basement on a sunny day and turns it into a quick exercise, IF you stay focused. That's the key, and it takes practice. Don't be too hard on yourself if it takes awhile to get the hang of this! For me, some days are certainly better than others.
A Pomodoro can also help you limit activities that maybe you shouldn't be doing for long periods, like watching TV or stalking people on Facebook. Give yourself 25 minutes to watch your sitcom on DVR. I've found that if I'm only watching TV for 25 minutes without any other tasks, I get bored and stop watching!
Remember, ONE task at a time. If you commit to cleaning out the garage, you aren't checking your phone or chatting with neighbors. You are cleaning the garage only! If you get interrupted, take note of it and move on. Like any good life lesson, the Pomodoro technique is easy to understand, but tough to master. Practice!