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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hitting 4 hours a day - with the help of a tomato

I blogged earlier about how I was struggling trying to reach my goal of 4 hours of good work a day. I'm happy to report that the last two weeks have been very productive and I've gotten to 4 hours a day!

I went over the tipping point with the help of a technique I read on a blog... I would love to give the kudos, but I honestly can't remember where I got it from. It's called the "Pomodoro Technique" (after looking into this technique some more, I discovered pomodoro means tomato. You'll hafta check it out yourself to find out why it's called that).

In a nutshell, you basically set a timer for 25 minutes (one Pomodoro). You start the timer, and you have to work on one task for 25 straight minutes. If you stop and do something else, you have to start the 25 minutes over. If you're tempted to do something else, you should just write it down, then decide if it's worth it to start over. You must stop at the end of the 25 min, and take a 5 or 30 min break (depending on how many you've done already).

The technique is great because it makes you focus on one task; as I mentioned in previous posts, I have a hard time doing that. But I like that it recognizes distractions occur, and it has you write down the distraction so you can get to it during your breaks. Or you combine them together to form a whole 25 minute session. The forced 25 minute session (technically you're not allowed to go over) also gives you some sense of urgency to get your task completed so you also are inspired to be efficient.

I used this method to tackle important tasks that I procrastinate on. I procrastinate because the task appears too big to tackle, or tasks where I feel some self doubt on. For instance, as I mentioned before, I hired a programmer to help with the latest NOTtheBookStore.com. His part is done, but I have a lot of things I still wish to change on the site. Taking one look at the code floored me. But I set my iPhone to 25 minutes one day, with the goal to figure out how to change the design of the front home page. I ended up figuring out how to do it, and along the way learning about organizing functions, object oriented php, css, and why Internet Explorer is a pain in the ass for web designers.

I relax the forced 25 minute rule... if I need to keep going I do. I know I'm not motivated by deadlines as much as normal people, and the bigger issue for me is getting going and staying going. I tend to doubt the "big picture" when I dig into things, so when things are moving and I don't have that problem, I want to keep it going!

So with two weeks and counting on my sabbatical, I'm starting to hit max productivity. This is a great learning because once I go back to the "Corporate" part of my Corporatepreneurship, I know I can do 1-2 hour chunks after work and keep up the "preneurship" part.


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