Last week's Grand Summer Work Experiment was kind of a bust and I'm not 100% sure why. I don't think it had anything to do with my experiment for the week (using a program to block distracting URLs and distracting programs). I think it was more a function of the work I had to do. I'm working on an academic poster to be presented at a conference in two weeks and I need to transition into a phase of the project I'm not really sure how to do. Essentially, I avoided doing difficult or unclear (yet highly important) work for the majority of my so-called "productive" time last week. If I run into that problem in the future I need to figure out how to battle through it, though. It seems like the best way forward would be to recommit to sticking to the Pomodoro Technique and truly clarifying the work that needed to be done (maybe using the Natural Planning Model to gain clarity on the project?).
Pomodoring Myself Dull?
The other thought I'm having about my productivity experimentation is that perhaps last week was a function of rebelling against too much structure. I felt myself resisting using the Pomodoro Technique (and didn't use it at all except for Monday) and I'm not sure why. A couple times I found myself thinking something along the lines of, "Dammit, I'm an independent worker with a lot of flexibility… why do I have to follow this timer?" This leads me to think that instead of having one style of work that I stick to 100% of the time I'm wondering if I need to be cultivating two or more distinct styles based on how I'm feeling and what the day calls for. I'm already discovering that using the Pomodoro Technique doesn't work when my day is carved into little chunks because of coaching calls or meetings. Maybe the differentiation of my working style has to be even greater than that? Maybe I should rotate between highly structured Pomodoro-style productivity and a more free-wheeling, play it by ear style of productivity on a weekly basis?
Week #4: Better Breaks
This week I'm going to continue working Pomodoro-style (at least for Monday through Thursday -- Friday is my long coaching day). I'm also going to continue blocking myself from distracting URLs and distracting programs. Like I said, even though last week was a bust I don't think it was a function of the experiment I was trying.
The new experiment for this week will be focusing on taking better breaks. Instead of just sitting at my computer or even taking my phone over to the couch to read an article, I'm going to try to completely change my context. I'll try to get outside, just sit quietly for a few minutes, or lay on the couch and listen to some music. I want to figure out what the best way truly is for me to regain energy and be able to continue working with a high level of focus. I may even take a look at The Power of Full Engagement again to brush up on advice about energy restoration rituals. I think the breaks in the Pomodoro Technique are super important to the success of using it so I want to make sure I'm gaining as much as possible from them.
This may be a bigger thought for another day, but I also think many of us have already taken care of all the low hanging fruit in regards to the active improvement of our productivity. However, I think the way we rejuvenate and restore ourselves is something that most of us take for granted when in reality it may be just as ripe an area for cultivation than the more "active" productivity tips and techniques we like to talk about the most. That's an idea I'll probably flesh out some more in the future.
But for now, my timer just dinged so it's time to go sip some coffee on the balcony.
Photo via freephotouk