Writers, how do you manage your time? Have you discovered the Pomodoro technique? #TimeManagement #amwriting

I shared this technique earlier on Marcia Meara’s blog, THE WRITE STUFF, while Marcia continues her clear up after the destruction visited upon her home by Hurricane Irma.

I am not a full time writer. Like a lot of others, I have to fit my writing time around my full time business. And my business is VERY full time – I train and judge competition dressage horses at National and International level. It’s a fabulous job, but very time consuming, not to mention sometimes exhausting.

Me at work.
I don’t always look this glamorous, believe me.

When people glibly tell me that there is always time to be found in the work day, I know they have NO idea what my life is like. I can often be on the road by 7am, and not home until 10pm, having been either driving or working the entire time. Please tell me where I am supposed to find time to write in that schedule?

I’m not complaining, no sir, I’m just making a point. Not everybody’s life lends itself to a regular writing routine. Mine certainly doesn’t.

So what is my point?

Well, I recently followed a short writing course, largely because it had a great module on plotting (guess who is trying to learn more about plotting vs pantsing?). But what it also had, was a section on time management.

My first thought was, ‘here we go again, I’ve heard it all before’.

But I hadn’t! This course introduced me to the POMODORO TECHNIQUE.

If you haven’t come across it yet, it is a time management approach developed in the late 1980s, and named after the Pomodoro kitchen timer.

The reason I found this so useful?

Because I have always felt that there was no point starting to write unless I had at least a clear hour available. Anything less than that seemed to me to be unproductive, and I hate to get started only to find I have to give up.

The nub of the Pomodoro technique, though, is that you work for exactly 25 minutes. Not more, and not less.

If you have that magic hour free, then you can fit two sessions in, with a small gap in the middle for coffee making or similar.

I guess, now I think about it, that this is at least partially based on the knowledge that we (humans) can only concentrate fully for 20 minutes at a time, so the 25 minutes stretches that just a touch, followed by the short break, and then back for another 20 (or 25) minutes work.

What it has meant for me, personally, is that my next book is coming along much quicker than previous ones, because I can often find 25 minutes spare, where I might have to wait days to find one of those precious hour gaps.

It has enabled me to give myself permission to write for just 25 minutes, and without guilt that I didn’t get that full hour of work in.

Crazy, huh? But it’s working for me.

I’ve finally realised that my one hour rule is yet another of those dreaded procrastinations we writers are often so prone to.

How about all of you, how do you manage your time?

Marcia has immediately came up with a great idea – she is a full time writer, so she’s going to use the technique in reverse – making herself stop long enough to do 25 minutes of previously ignored chores, before she gets back to her writing. Great idea!

Even if you are a full time writer, with all the guff that goes with it these days, how do you arrange your productive writing sessions?

Does anyone else have a favoured minimum writing time?

 

 

 

 

 

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8 comments

  1. Loved this Deb. Left comment over at Marcia’s 🙂

    1. Cheers, Deb 😀

  2. I found this post extremely helpful, Deborah. I also don’t really get any free time at work, not even 25 minutes but I can find gaps at other times during my day. Super advice. PS I also used to horse ride, although not at your level, so I do understand how hectic it is.

    1. I’m delighted this share is helping so many people. I thought it might just be me and everyone else found large blocks of time somehow 😀

  3. This is really helpful Deborah. I am struggling with time at the moment what with my full-time job, university visits for my eldesr daughter, etc. I reckon I cursed myself calling my book The Curse of Time!

    1. Ha ha, you certainly did! What we both need really is a time turner like Hermione has in Harry Potter 😋
      Failing that, a red kitchen timer…

  4. I like the general technique, but I’m always concerned about a one-size-fits-all approach. 25 minutes works for many people. I prefer differently timed writing sprints/bursts, and especially shorter ones later in the day. It’s also very important what you do in the intervals. Email and FB are just *so* convenient… and deadly.

    1. Lol, you are so right with that last observation, Mark. As I recall, the instructions are to go do something physical in the gap, even if its only to make a cup of coffee – and that should also help with another writers curse – not moving often enough!
      I am finding I sometimes get so ‘stuck in’ to what I’m writing, I go over the 25 minutes without noticing. I don’t let the limit rule me, but the biggest improvement in my production level is accepting that I CAN write for a short period, and those short stints then add up to far more work done than if I waited for a longer block of time.

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