i can do it!

yes i can!

(image source)

i mentioned last week that i was going to try the pomodoro technique to try to help with my motivation/productivity problem. now, after giving it a couple days, i want to share my experience with you guys.

first though, i’ve been thinking a lot lately about why i’ve been having such a hard time getting work done. caitlin did a post recently about staying motivated (she was talking about health/fitness goals, but i think it applies here) and she mentioned that perfectionists are notorious for having trouble starting things. she pointed out that perfectionists are afraid of not doing things the right way, so they avoid doing them to avoid being imperfect.

in this case, with my paper revisions, i did feel a sense of fear when i thought about working on it. i really did NOT want to see what all of the red revisions and notes from my advisor said. i spent a lot of time on the first draft and it was scary to know there were a lot of things that weren’t good enough in it.

anyway, back to pomodoro. it works like this: you make a list of things that need to be done. you choose the ones that you believe you can accomplish in the amount of time you have set aside for work. then you set a timer for 25 minutes. work for 25 minutes straight without allowing yourself to be distracted while you work on the first item on your list. once 25 minutes is up, you set the timer for 5 minutes and take a complete break from the work. then repeat 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break. after 4 of these sets, you take a longer (15-30 minutes) break.

with all of those breaks, i was a little skeptical. but guess what. it works! πŸ™‚ at least for me! look at everything i accomplished before 2pm yesterday!

and you know what, those 5 minute breaks are enough for me to do something i really enjoy that is NOT work – reading blogs! look what i saw after my breaks:

i have not seen “0 new items” in my google reader in a VERY long time. i never would have believed i could read my whole reader and get so much accomplished in the same work day! i think it’s magic! (and yes, i really did only take 5 minute breaks!)

while i was being so busy yesterday, i also enjoyed some pretty yummy food! breakfast was overnight oats with strawberries and my vitamins.

i made a monster salad for lunch. it had pretty much everything! spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, celery, avocado, and some garlic gold viniagrette dressing. i also threw a laughing cow wedge on there just for fun. i also had some (unphotographed) crackers and an orange.

this salad was pretty good, but i think the garlic gold dressing just didn’t go. i think i would have preferred regular balsamic vinegar on this one. i never would have thought it – i love garlic gold! oh well. today’s just has balsamic.

i’m mixing things up a bit today. my landlord is showing my apartment twice – at 11am and at 6pm, so i’m doing my workout this morning and running some errands, then going into work late so i don’t get home until after 7pm. i plan to do get a lot done at work with some pomodoro’s. seriously, if you need help staying productive, try it!

do you have some flexibility in your schedule to change up your days? do you like to?

i’m a little worried about how much i’ll get done in lab today. usually 3pm is when i hit my productivity wall. we’ll see how it goes!


About sarah

hi, i'm sarah. i'm a graduate student, dog lover, newlywed, blogger, aspiring baker/cook, and a veggie lover. :)
This entry was posted in breakfast, food, grad school, lunch, meals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to i can do it!

  1. So glad it worked for you!!!! I am making a career shift (that has yet to be announced) so I will have a lot more flexibility that i’m super excited about!!!

  2. Wow – good job! I will have to try that technique – my breaks tend to get way too long.

  3. I need to try this. right about NOW!

    This scared the crap out of me “perfectionists are notorious for having trouble starting things. she pointed out that perfectionists are afraid of not doing things the right way, so they avoid doing them to avoid being imperfect.”

    That is my EXACT problem! To get kind of personal.. the perfectionism is so freaking bad that I wont finish my resume, wont work on my cover letters and wont apply for the internship that will give me the internship that I HAVE TO HAVE to succeed in my career. I don’t know how to break the cycle of fear and avoiding! at all! =(

    • Sarah says:

      i’m struggling with the exact same thing, jenn! even after my great progress yesterday, it’s 2pm and i’m still having a hard time getting myself to start today’s revisions. i wish i had some great secret to break that cycle. i know that after i start, it’s not nearly as bad as i thought! it just occurred to me that there is no way that starting this project could make it worse.

      also, my friend amy just wrote a post this morning about how she’s approaching writing her thesis. i think it’s a great mentality for those of us who are afraid of imperfection. here’s the link: http://teachwritecook.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/making-mudpies/ i hope it helps!

  4. I really identify with the perfectionism thing. I have a lot of trouble starting projects because I am so afraid that I won’t do them perfectly.

    I tried a modified version of the pomodoro technique today (with some longer blocks and longer breaks) and it worked pretty well! Thanks for introducing me to it!

    Also, thanks for linking to my post! I am glad it was helpful to someone besides me. πŸ™‚

    • Sarah says:

      i’m so glad it worked for you! i think once i get a little bit more used to pomodoro i’ll make my working times a little bit longer. sometimes 25 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time to accomplish much. but i guess it is since i got so much done! πŸ™‚

  5. Meg says:

    This was really interesting. I had no idea that perfectionists avoid starting things and then I get anxiety about getting them done. Great information.

  6. janetha says:

    talk about turbo productive. i like that break breakdown. and a zero on google reader?! you must not read enough blogs πŸ˜‰ haha, i kid.


    • Sarah says:

      haha, seriously, i don’t think it can possibly be that i don’t read enough blogs! i think i follow at least 50. but if you have any good suggestions, let me know! i’m always looking for more good ones. i don’t know how it got down to zero, though. it was actually kind of sad – i like to always know i have a blog post to read if i need a little help procrastinating!

  7. Priyanka says:

    I am always looking for tips when it comes to making my life more organized and productive. I have an excellent guest post lined up on Friday, if you are interested!
    I really loved this technique you gave here!

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