After reading the blog post by The Thesis Whisperer titled “Another way to write 1000 words a day” I was inspired to try the Pomodoro technique. It was developed in the 1980s, and it is a way to reduce distractions and concentrate the brain on a set task for a short time period. You work for 25 minutes on a task, take a five minute break, and this counts as one pomodoro. You repeat this four times, and then you take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
I downloaded ‘Pomicro’ for my android phone, as I was spending the day working on an essay that had a number of tasks to be done. I found this method to be amazingly helpful! For example, I had some of the essay written, so this needed to be edited, I also had more readings to do, and more writing to do based on these readings, as well as editing the bibliography. So these different tasks made starting seem overwhelming. I think the sheer simplicity of the method is what makes it work so well; you have to focus on a task for 25 minutes, but it also gets you over the procrastination impulse which one (me!) can be trapped by. It helps this by saying it’s only for 25 minutes, and you can do anything for 25 minutes.
Saying that, I can see how it could interrupt the flow of writing or thinking, and I sometimes found that when I set myself the task for writing that I would go way over time without noticing. So, its not without its faults but if like me your someone who can be easily distracted by the environment around them (i.e. if I am at home and my desk isn’t perfectly tidy), or I feel a need to check emails, then the idea that I can work for 25 minutes then have 5 minutes to do what I need to do, is a nice relief and encouragement to commit to the 25 minutes.
The app is free on android and Apple, and is well worth a shot; the method might end up suiting you really well. I will definitely be using it in future. Writer’s block or general block can affect all of us, so this might be one way of beating it without banging your head off your desk.