I’m sure many of you will have come across the Pomodoro Technique (™) as a means of maintaining focus and getting stuff done, but if not, here’s how to get started.
The technique was, I discover from this Wikipedia article, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and it involves working in a very focussed way with a timer running for a period of time – in this case, twenty five minutes – then taking a short break to rest the eyes and the brain – in this case five minutes. After a number of work sessions, you take a slightly longer break.
I first discovered it when I was tasked with a horrible job (which shouldn’t have been mine anyway!) and wanted to get it done as fast and painlessly as possible. I originally set out to bash away at it until it was done, but I found I was losing the will to live and making stupid mistakes after about forty minutes. That was when I remembered Pomodoro. I had a tomato shaped kitchen timer which I used daily to control the length of briefings (I’ll describe that in a different post) and since ‘pomodoro’ is Italian for tomato (and, I now discover, was what Cirillo used), I used that. It worked well for me and I hope it may do so for you too.
If you don’t have a mechanical timer, your search engine of choice will provide you with lots of links to places where you can download Pomodoro timer apps for your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. There is of course the danger that you will spend so much time on productivity techniques that you are still no more productive, but I’m sure that couldn’t happen to you… could it!
Disconnect with a Mental Vacation Before Taking the Real Thing
Do you find it takes you a week to wind down when you finally get a break?
Well, with the time for taking holidays coming up, this seems like a good time to re-post a link to this Harvard Business Review article by Carolyn O’Hara, which suggests mentally preparing yourself before you leave.
It’s all too easy to take work on holiday with you, whether it’s physically (I’ll just read through this stuff in the evenings and catch up a bit) or mentally – waking at 3a.m. wondering what to do about x or y or z. But if you do so, you’re simply transferring work to another location and losing the wonderful opportunity a holiday gives you to return refreshed and with as clear mind and a restored sense of perspective – Recreation is just that: re-creation!
I’m a great believer in practising new things mentally before actually undertaking them, so I see no reason why this wouldn’t work. I know there’s always a huge amount to be done before you can leave for a vacation but building in some ‘winding down’ time into your task list could pay dividends. She also has useful tips for really enjoying your holiday once you leave the office – and for easing yourself back into the flow.
Here are her headlines:
Practice with a mental “vacation” everyday
Plan ahead and define “emergency”
Empower your team
Give yourself permission to check in
Leave projects behind
Manage your re-entry
Savor your memories
Disconnect with a Mental Vacation Before Taking the Real Thing – https://hbr.org/2014/08/the-professionals-guide-to-a-stress-free-vacation/
And when your team members take a holiday, help them prepare and then ease them back in kindly and thoughtfully!
A bit of pondering on an autumn afternoon off…
As we move up the ladder at work, whether we become lecturers or administrators or managers or other holders of senior positions, we change and grow and our knowledge increases and our experience broadens. Our skills and abilities stretch and our opinions become more robust. Our viewpoints change as we see the bigger picture. Maybe we have to become more focussed on strategy, perhaps appearing less caring about the smaller things – and I’d say that’s natural and is probably the only way those responsible for large organisations can function effectively. We may also dress differently – more formally perhaps – which changes the physical perception of our presence. Power always adds presence (I think because of the obligations that come with it), whether we recognise it or not.
But I’m willing to bet that inside, we feel the same as we always did. I was speaking to an elderly gentleman the other day and asked him if he felt any different having reached his eighty-fifth year. His response confirmed my own experience: he felt exactly the same as he had in his twenties – it was merely that his image reflected in the mirror in a morning was different.
The perceptions bit of this ramble though, is about how others perceive us. When you were promoted to a position of leadership amongst your colleagues, how did your attitude towards them change? And more to the point, how did their attitude to you alter? Like it or not, someone appointed to lead suddenly becomes ‘them’… ‘Management (TM)’. Suddenly we are no longer ‘us’ but have become ‘them’. No doubt you spent some time thinking about how you managed the transition and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Of one thing I’m certain – the effect we, in our new positions, have on those with whom we were once ‘us’ is something we need to consider and take very seriously. We appear different and have a different ‘presence’ whether we know it or not. I’ll give you an illustration…
Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson suggests nine useful strategies:
- Cut yourself some slack
- Remember the ‘big picture’
- Rely on routines
- Set aside a few minutes to do interesting things
- Add ‘when’ and ‘where’ to your to-do list
- Use ‘If-thens’ for positive self-talk
- See your work in terms of progress, not perfection
- Focus on the progress you’ve already made
- Know whether optimism or defensive pessimist works for you
Read the whole article here:
Nine Strategies Successful People Use to Overcome Stress – http://pulse.me/s/hpKgk
Thanks to my daughter for pointing out this interesting article on positive and negative stress.
Having Heart: Can We Rethink Life’s Stresses? – Association for Psychological Science.