Two eggs, if you want me to be precise. Two sessions of 25 minutes was all it took for me to realize that while the Pomodoro Technique works wonders for some, it was not for me. There are two reasons for this.
One is that if I am doing lots of small tasks, even batched together, my focus is popping about from place to place anyway. Trying to remember a specific set of things which I am supposed to be focussing on without losing that focus is just too much. Plus I tend to forget that I’ve set a timer and just womble off doing things.
The other problem is that if I am doing a big job, I like to get stuck in and do a big chunk of it. The absolute last thing I need is an alarm interrupting me every half hour telling me to stop working. Starting is always the hardest bit: why build extra starts into your work?
In any case, once I’ve got into the work, I don’t need to be reminded to focus. It just happens. I may need to be reminded to eat and sleep and bathe, but this is a function much more persuasively carried out by the Caped Gooseberry (who doesn’t stop making noise if you swipe at him).
The tenth and final phase of the Grand Productivity Experiment is the Unschedule. Or at least, the best approximation of the Unschedule that I can produce without benefit of reading the book in question. For some reason known only to themselves, the Powers That Be in the regional library system have decided to make the book The Now Habit (by Neil Fiore) only available to those with e-readers. Who in my opinion are most likely to be able to afford their own copy. You can of course read this ebook on a computer, providing you don’t run Linux.
I could, of course, ask the Caped Gooseberry to set up a Windows simulator on my computer in order to run the program which is necessary to access the thing which actually has the ebook content in it… but frankly, I have yet to meet a book I want to read that badly. The Caped Gooseberry has better things to do with his time, e.g. undermine the monopolistic banking system.
So, in the absence of the book itself, I am making use of other resources, most notably this blog post. The basic idea, as I understand it, is to schedule the not-work things and then make the work fit around them. Plus to be certain to spend at least an hour a day on ‘play’ (which I am interpreting as creative recreational pursuits), and take a day off a week (which I am already doing).
“Fixed commitments”, “self-care activities” and “guilt-free play” are the first to go into the Unschedule. Fixed commitments in my case mostly consist of sleep, meals and occasional meetings (mostly church-related). Self-care apparently doesn’t include eating or sleeping, but I can put down bathing, tooth-brushing (can I be bothered to schedule that? probably not) and time spent with God.
Also self-care: exercise. I shall have to think about what exercise I can do that doesn’t count as work. Generally I get most of my exercise as a by-product of jobs I do, e.g. bend and lift with laundry, brisk walk with errands, weight-lifting with getting the firewood in. (Lift with your knees, not with your back: forklift, not crane.)
And as for guilt-free play… The article I linked to says, “Procrastinators don’t know where their time goes, feel guilty for thinking they wasted time, feel that they don’t deserve any rest, and thus never really allow themselves any guilt-free leisure time.” Guilty as charged, m’lud. Not that I don’t take any time out. I do; otherwise I’d keel over. But not necessarily guilt-free time.
It’s so easy – for me at least – to discount all the things I habitually do as ‘not work’. Keeping up a regular supply of clean clothes, dishes and self, for example.
The challenge for this week, then, is to figure out what counts as work (since I’m not writing at the moment) and what doesn’t; to schedule the latter and then fit the former around it, in half hour blocks – because you’re not allowed to write any work in your schedule until you’ve already done it for half an hour. Sounds a bit like the Pomodoro Technique, she says dubiously.
Have you tried an Unschedule? How did you find it? What did you count as work? Have you ever been driven to aggravation by a library having a book you want to read only in a form you can’t access?