Development diaries, 1-28-2015: The Pomodoro method

theClaimDevNormal day, the first of its kind in two weeks. Didn’t drop off the kids, but started at 9:00 anyway—took some time to walk around in the cold and plan the chapter in my head. It feels like it worked, but it also feels like something else worked. After nearly an hour bereft of focus, I tried the Pomodoro method, or my own adaptation of it: Write without interruption for 25 minutes, read A Game of Thrones for 5. I averaged over 500 words in each of those 25-minute intervals. I think repeated Pomodoros may be conducive to mental exhaustion, though; after five, I’d written almost 3000 words, but then I took an hour break for lunch and exercise that metastasized into another hour of useless Internet meandering. Two more intervals left me at about 4100 words for the day—which would be below quota, if quota meant anything at this point, but is a decent figure. (This, BTW, is why I have so many bracketed word counts in the day’s words—tracking my efficiency.)

This is the first day I’ve approached my SEPTA rate of 1000 words in 50 minutes; actually, I’m almost precisely there. Which makes me think that I have the determinants of my writing speed exactly wrong. I’ve been assuming that I could write fast on SEPTA because of Pavlovian conditioning: train <> writing. But it may be that the important thing isn’t the association, it’s the fact that there’s an endpoint. When I have the whole day ahead of me, with just lunch and evening to structure my time, it’s hard to write hard and hard to limit my breaks. Writing hard for 25 minutes is pretty easy, and five minutes of reading time is fun enough not to be frustrating, which actually kind of surprised me—AGoT is the kind of book it’s easy to get sucked into. Anyway, maybe it’s all down to novelty—and I’m sure the outlining in my head on the morning walk played an important role as well—but I’m pretty optimistic about using this in more time-limited contexts in the future. If two Pomodoros can reliably bag me 1000 words in an hour before or after work, that’s amazing. Apimac Timer has stopped working on my computer, so I used Timer-Tab, which was great.

I’m headed to London next week for my first week at the new job. I need to start modulating my expectations now. A week without kids feels like it’s going to be all free time, even with eight or more hours a day at work, but (a) I may wish to socialize or explore in the evenings, (b) westbound jet lag is the worst, and ( c ) I should sleep while I can. Remind me of this if you find me posting 2000-word updates at 0300 GMT, please. Also, (d)—and I always forget this—although being free of kids and family is fun and liberating, it is also almost always depressing. This may be yet truer in a strange city where I can’t afford to use my phone.

Development diaries, 1-28-2015: The Pomodoro method

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