Photo by English Heritage/Arcaid/Corbis via The Pursuit Aesthetic.
We’ve declared it Career Week at cait+tiff. Both of us are venturing on new paths with this gig we’re working on, and we thought we’d share posts on just how we are making it all happen. For me, this also means a heck ton of time management.
I’m basically working two part time jobs these days. On one hand, there’s the global health consulting that I do to earn my artisanal bread and organic butter. On the other hand, cait+tiff feeds my soul in so many amazing ways. But this also means that it’s absolutely important that I put up some concrete boundaries that so that neither side of my professional self feels like it’s been shuffled off to a neglected corner. These boundaries help both sides continue to grow individually. All the while trying to “have it all,” by staying close with my friends here and abroad, making time for home-cooked meals and being a good partner. Many things basically.
And how exactly am I operationalizing this? It’s easy to say that I’m going to allocate time to all these things. But in practice, there are always distractions pulling me in all these different directions. Both my jobs have tight deadlines for distinct assignments. A daily blog post before noon. Morning meetings. Protocols or reports submitted by 5pm. Don’t even get me started on the topic of self-employment…
A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the Pomodoro Technique by the multi-talented creative director (cum designer cum small business owner and blogger momma) Elizabeth Antonia in this wonderful interview with Cup of Jo on the topic of balance.
The Pomodoro Technique is a tool to improve focus and productivity. Two things I am always trying to work on. All you need is a timer! You start by setting your little tomato (or egg, iPhone, or this site that I use) to the tune of 25 minutes.
And then you work. Focused work that is free of distractions like the Internet or email. After 25 minutes, the little ringer goes off and you are free to do anything you like to the tune of a five minute break. The ringer goes off again, and back you go for another 25 working spree. This combination can go on for a total of three or four rounds. After a total of 100 minutes of work, I usually gift myself a 30 minute break. As you go, you can improve your work intervals to 30 or even 45 minutes.
While this doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, it certainly does promote productivity and focus for my easily distracted brain. I find that giving myself tight deadlines improves the quality and speed at which I do work. I also feel more engaged. I’m sure Malcolm Gladwell has written an essay on how and why this happens.
This little tomato of a video explains a little more on the Pomodoro Technique.
PS – I should also mention that I like to start out the day with a high intensity work out here. I find that this helps to get rid a lot of the nervous extra energy I have at the start of the day, helps to clear unruly and unnecessary thoughts and at the end of it all, improves my focus and drive to complete the tasks I have set for myself. The linkage between exercise and productivity has been really well documented here and more legitimately here.