11 June 2010

The Italian Tomato

I'm baaacckk!!! Woah, and on time for a day 10 entry!
So this week has been the usual, busy, hectic, high-pressure, high-stress and the always positive productive.
Yep, productive because I think I've finally found something that is working very well for my personal style. It's called the Pomodoro Technique. For those of you who are not familiar with this, it's basically the concept of focusing, really focusing for short burts of time rather than try to do everything, all the time. The idea is that for 25 minutes, you have a timer on and within those 25 mins you do only one task. The best thing is that the idea of 25 minutes doesn't sound a lot even though it's really almost half an hour! Usually when I do stuff, I look at the clock and go "here goes the hours" and the next time I look it's 2 hours only... but now with this 25 minutes idea, I know that time won't fly and there's a little rest/reward waiting for me very soon. Not to mention, the idea of "I'll deal with that stuff in 25 minutes" is really re-assuring since you no longer feel the pressure of things just piling up constantly while you're trying to accomplish one task.
On the other hand, to avoid even more distractions, I'm currently enjoying email notifications using Scott's Gmail Alert Notifier for Windows. I've set it to check emails every 20 minutes (used to be 15 minutes) and things are going smoothly. Combine that with the extremely awesome ActiveInbox and I've got me a great set up.
Back to the pomodoro technique. The best thing about this is that you're supposed to hear the ticking sound of the timer as it ticks away every second. Sometimes this can get annoying because it requires that I turn off all my music in the background, but sometimes, it's like a hypnotizing sound that keeps me extremely focused!
Now speaking of the reward, after 25 minutes, you're supposed to take a short 5 minutes break, then get back to the task on hand. To be honest, 5 minutes isn't enough for me so I usually push it to 10 minutes. But the idea that 25+5 = 30 minutes means you can have 2 really focused blocks of time within just 1 hour! And you're less burnt out than working 1 hour straight and requiring 20 - 30 minutes to recover!
So far so good, although I'm really only on day 3 of this technique, it's helped me get a lot of stuff done.
I've also realized that I need to work on my out of sight, out of mind thinking. When I don't see stuff on my to do list, I really shouldn't be thinking about it. There's a reason it doesn't show up there because it's not something I should/need to deal with right now and I can relax for a while. I'm getting better at this because I'm growing more and more confident in my organization skills that I trust the me who decided something could be tended to later had a reason to make that decision back then.
On the other hand, my comedy writing is back on track but I feel I've gotten rusty with my creative writing skills. The bright side is that I've worked out a better organization system for my notes and ideas.
The key is to make sure gathering random ideas should be extremely easy to do. I should not feel like I'm putting much effort into noting down funny ideas. Of course, this will mean a lot of rubbish ideas get added to my system too. But that's where the filtering day comes in. During the filter process, I usually look at my random ideas after a few days and harshly judge if I think there's something there or it just is not funny to me anymore. Delete the bad ideas? Never. Anyone who knows me realizes that my need to log everything down extends to my ideas, I couldn't live with myself throwing away an idea, be it good or bad! So I just mark it as a bad idea and keep it elsewhere in the system out of my sight. Who knows it may be funny again one day!
My fitness routine has taken an upgrade because I've worked out some better nutritional habits that have helped me better recover from workouts. I still have to figure out a way to minimize the fatigue I feel near the last 10 minutes of my workouts. May I also say I have become a real addict to Promax Double Fudge Brownie bars. Partly also because I've been on the run this whole last 10 days so I've consumed, literally 1 a day while running from here to there. At least it gives me a smile when I stop and eat one of these :) mmm
And finally, we're reaching the 2:30 mark of my 25 minutes session, so I'm going to wrap things up. I've been re-thinking about a lot of my personal systems that I've been using and have found areas where I really could use an improvement, chances are I'm not alone or someone has found a similar solution. But what I've found what Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” to be extremely true. I mean I always believed it, but boy does it pay to better prepare and plan. Now that I plan the next day before I go to bed religiously, I feel like after a good night's rest, all I have to do is...well... focus on doing! The same with my systems, with proper systems in place, I no longer need to worry about the administration side of things, all I need to do is, do things! Be productive, not organized!
Separately organization with productivity has been a blessing in disguise! :)
Time's up! Have a fun 10 days!

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