When I was younger, I struggled with keeping my attention sewn to the task at hand. Most children combat such attempts but in the 1960s and 1970s, this was not addressed as much as they are now with those who battle ADD/ADHD.
Mother encouraged me to break things down into “chunks” of time spent on the task at hand and then, “walk away.” This became a great tool with piano lessons as the music became more difficult. Mother and Mrs. Catherine “Kitty” Rutledge, both mine and Mother’s piano teacher worked with me on breaking my music into chunks by working a few measures, a line, or several lines at a time. Once it was mastered, I would move on to the next section.
Away from the piano bench, working in smaller chunks and taking a few minutes away worked wonders. Or, if I got to a point where something was a struggle, I can still hear Mother’s voice, “Leave it alone for a while.” She also believed that instead of sitting through a stack of homework until it was all accomplished, she encouraged me to complete an assignment and then take a ten to fifteen-minute break.
A typical morning routine for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday might be:
- 08:30 AM – blog or free writing
- 09:00 AM – 09:40 AM – research
- 09:40 AM – 10:10 AM – write
- 10:10 AM – 10:20 AM – break
- 10:20 AM – 10:50 AM – research
- 10:50 AM – 11:20 AM – write
- 11:20 AM – 12:00 PM – research
- 12:00 PM – Lunch, relax nap
- 02:00 PM – begin the teaching day
I know this might seem cumbersome for those who like to plow through their projects but this system or process works beautifully for me. However, I can also push this schedule aside when I know I must keep going. Research often (well, always!) takes me down numerous rabbit holes and I can get lost in the moment quite easily.
I learned, tonight, that this process is called The Pomodoro Technique and is described as mastering your time by:
- Choose your task and total time to work on it
- Set a timer to 25 minutes (either with an egg timer or with an app)
- Work on the task for 25 minutes
- Take a 5-minute break for energy renewal, start another Pomodoro
- Take a 20-30 minute break after completing four Pomodoros
What has been a huge help to me is having Erma at The Haasienda as she often comes over to visit me every twenty to thirty minutes while I am working.