Maybe it’s a control issue. I do not like the thought of being told to stop writing. I do not like being interrupted. Especially by a machine. And I’m not alone in this.
Most creative people will take your head off if you butt in while they are flowing. Man.
But that’s exactly what the Pomodoro technique does, a time management trick designed to boost your productivity.
The concept is simple: set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes and work until it rings. Then take a short break.
Eugene Schwartz swore by a similar method. He gunned for 33.33 minutes (not sure how he managed the .33 part given he wasn’t using a digital clock — I guess he eyeballed it).
During those 33 plus minutes he could do anything he wanted: stare out the window, drink coffee, drool on his wrist, or write the ad.
The hitch? He couldn’t leave his seat for nothing.
The hope was he’d get so bored he’d just write. And soon enough that’s what would happen.
This burst of focus time is getting longer
Julia Gifford and her crew studied the habits of the most effective people and spotted what they thought was the productivity sweet spot: fifty-two minutes on, and seventeen minutes off.
The headline says it all: “The Rule of 52 and 17: It’s Random But It Ups Your Productivity.” The article, however, focuses less on the 52 and more on the 17. It’s the breaks she emphasizes that make us more productive.
I’m down with that.
Sometimes it’s a straight four-and-a-half hours on, and an hour off. Yes, sans bathroom break.
Why? Resumption lag: “the time that is needed to collect one’s thoughts and restart a task once the interruption is over,” as studied by Erik M. Altmann from the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University and J. Gregory Trafton with the Naval Research Laboratory.
And if it takes roughly sixteen minutes to resume work, then under the Pomodoro regime you’ve only got nine minutes of focused time. Under the Schwartz scheme you have a little longer, say seventeen minutes. And much longer if you follow the average from Gifford’s study.