Dealing with uncertainty, writing my PhD thesis in 25 minute chunks

In my previous post I was talking about my love for twitter. One of the things I learnt from twitter was the Pomodoro method for productivity. Using the pomodoro has taught me valuable skills that I want to try and share with you here. It has been a useful technique in dealing with uncertainties such as not having a child minder and working around caring for a nine month old child. I also have a trip coming up and hope the ability to work in short bursts of time will help keep the writing flow I have established while I travel.

I have a pomodoro app for my macbook from @xwavesoft. This has made all the difference in my using the pomodoro method because I don’t need any external gadget or timer. I have everything on my mac. The app makes it easy for me to follow the pomodoro method.  Once I begin my first work session which runs for 25 minutes the app lets me know its time for a 5min break. You can pause in-between a work session and you can choose to skip a break a flexibility I enjoy. After three pomodoros, that is three 25mins work sessions and two 5mins break you take a 15mins break. I find when I am disciplined with the pomodoro method I am not as tired after a long day of working. When I end a day not feeling very tired I find I am on a high to start work the following morning.

The pomodoro method has been my saving grace on days when I have no writing motivation. Using the pomodoro method helps me because it cuts up my day into twenty five minute chunks. So I tell my brain that it only needs to focus for twenty five minutes and usually after the first pomodoro session my brain needs no further motivation. It’s much easier to feel motivated to spend twenty-five minutes on a difficult task, like trying to figure out how to write about critical realism in discourse analysis or is it discourse analysis in critical realism, than thinking I am spending my whole day trying to figure this out.

The pomodoro method has also shown me the value of using just twenty-five minutes at a time. This has helped me learn to work around my baby’s schedule in the unlikely times, such as currently, when I do not have a nanny. I used to think that I needed a whole day at the library to get meaningful writing done. I now see the value of twenty-five minutes and will grab whatever amount of time I have to get some work done. If only I could put my baby’s demands to fit in the 5 mins Pomodoro break or if I could make dinner during the 15mins break. I know that’s asking for far too much but overall I have learnt the value of tracking my time and how much I can get done with the little I have.

Lastly I have an upcoming trip involving long flights and I hope the Pomodoro also holds the secret to my ability to work while travelling. I have had high hopes previously, imagined myself getting meaningful work on these long international flights. To date I haven’t been successful. I haven’t had the motivation to get out my computer and work when it came to it. I hope my brain will concede to a 25minute focused session, my ultimate primer to many productive writing sessions. I love what @tanyaboza has to say about writing here. She says writing does not only involve generating a new document that is writing on a blank page and lists nine other activities that fall under the rubric of writing in her view. It gives me hope that I will have many productive writing pomodoros on my long flights.


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4 Responses to Dealing with uncertainty, writing my PhD thesis in 25 minute chunks

  1. I also recently discovered pomodoros (pomodori?) and I love it. They make everything so much more focused and they help me with doing many projects simultaneously (2 pomodori of this, followed by 2 of that, etc). I have not thought about travelling yet but since I also travel a lot, I really hope your conjecture is correct. Good luck!

    • mandlods says:

      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Yes the pomodoro is great for focus. It didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped on my trip, I will talk more about it in my next post. I think it was mostly because I was travelling with children and not alone. I still have hope that it millwork when travelling alone.

  2. katerinacb says:

    Interesting method. Remember that they taught us that when learning for exams, back when I was doing my bachelor. Some reason, I always get things done on the international flights, at least for the first 4 hours. But I’m normally traveling alone, so no distraction.

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