Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Goals: Ready, aim...readjust!

Angie here: Ready, aim...readjust!

Wait a minute! Isn't the easiest way to a goal the most direct route?

Mm, not always. Recently I watched a news show on productivity. The narrator explained a scientific study on the sedentary lifestyle and productivity. The study found a 40% loss in productivity in multi-tasking while there was a significant raise in productivity through concentrated bursts of time followed by a short break.

There were other significant findings reported. Sitting all day led to [gasp in shock] obesity and heart disease. But some desk jockies didn't seem to have that same problem. In order to find out why some did and some didn't, the study hooked everyone up to electrodes that produced a full color image of activity and intensity of activity.

What do you know? Those that actually moved during the day tended to be more in shape and less overweight. But they claimed to sit all day based on their perception. Fascinating. How is that possible?

The study found these people to be big time fidgeters or they moved about ten minutes every hour to a degree of intensity that kept them healthy. Interesting.

Let's take a short little detour to another article I read recently and then see how we can put them together for a super solution.

The Pomodoro Technique is getting rave reviews for upping productivity. So I decided to give it a try. Pomodoro (actually means something like tomato in Italian) is a session of time. Something that lasts twenty-five minutes and then you change direction and take a break for five minutes. Basically you concentrate on one project (not a bunch of multiple projects as in multi-tasking). At the end of those twenty-five minutes, your timer goes off and you get a five minute period of time to do anything you want. Then you're right back into the next Pomodoro (twenty-five minute section of time).

Here's how the two pieces of information merge.

I needed to get more productive but I also needed to exercise. Often my writing job calls for extended periods of reading or sitting at a computer. I downloaded the free version of Pomodoro LE (free version) to try it out as an app on my iPhone. I set my Pomodoro on my first project, twenty-five minutes of reading while marching in place. When the timer sounded, I switched to climbing my stairs for 5 minutes.

When done with one task, I simply click on "task completed". At the end of the first day, I had seven Pomodori completed. Seven! I crossed some major tasks off my list. And boy was I surprised by it!
I decided to try it a second time. Wow! Same results (not in number of tasks, but in upping my productivity because many were finished instead of partially done).

Since I could, I set the timer and went back to work. When it alerted me the time was up, the clock started immediately on timing my five minutes. I rose to stretch, do some wall push-ups, and grab a drink. Timer went off at five minutes. I sat down and worked on my writing business for another set. This is a very productive tool! I'm completely sold on it and found the app free online There is another similar app: iTomato. iTomatoe allows you to choose the length of the timed session where Pomodoro only allows the 25/5 pattern with options to move up to Pro should you need it.

Do I need it? No, I can keep working scattered and fight long, long days. But is it useful in productivity? An overwhelming YES!

I still use my written to-do list. But now I choose an item from that list and turn on my Pomodoro. If I am able to read a longer piece, I'll be that much more capable. You can find me being timed by a tomato and marching in place, up and down my stairs, or on my treadmill to keep my blood flowing and metabolism moving. After all, one Pomodori a day must be a workout. All the better if it includes reading. That's about as multi-tasking as I want to get.

Why? Because I really am more productive writing or working in twenty-five minutes with a five minute break. By following the Pomodoro Method, I feel I've found my inner drill sergeant and my inner child. They complement one another perfectly.

Have you tried a productivity program?
Which one?

I found Pomodoro for iPhone.

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