Sunday, August 25, 2019

Pomodoro and Writing

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I have posted quite a bit on this blog about tips for improving productivity for students and academics (most recently here). I thought I would share some thoughts on the Pomodoro Method and how it can be used to enhance writing productivity of university students and faculty.

First of all, what is the Pomodoro Method? It is a time management tool that was developed by Francesco Cirillo that uses 25 minute work intervals followed by short breaks. After a few of these work/break cycles, one takes a longer break to clear the mind.

The Method was developed in the 1980's prior to the widespread use of the Internet and phone technology. However, it is gaining in relevance today now that we have constant access to distractions as our email comes in like rain on a tin roof. The modified Pomodoro Method asks one to turn off all distractions for those 25 minutes of work--no Internet access, no phone, etc. It is a time for just pure work.

There are many apps that one can download on your phone to utilize the technique. I use a free one called Pomodoro Timer. Once you start the app, it starts counting down from 25 minutes. An alarm rings to let you know when your work time is done. It then will let you choose whether you want a short 3-5 minute break or a longer one. After the break, you go back to 25 minutes of work time and follow that cycle for as long as you want. That's really all there is to it.

I have found the tool is extremely useful to help keep me focused. Even though I have a daily writing goal of at least 1000 words a day, some days those 1000 words take more time because I get distracted by the Internet or some random email that arrives. I was a little dubious about the Pomodoro Method, but it turns out it has helped me stay a bit more focused and productive.

I think the technique is especially valuable to college students who are often distracted by technology or for people who are otherwise easily distracted when writing. If you are teaching a course with a significant writing component, such as a large final project or thesis, it is worth teaching the Pomodoro Method to help students with writing productivity.

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