The Pomodoro method might be a great way to succeed
I’m still not over sharing things I learned from Social Media Marketing World and, apparently, I’m not alone. One of the people I met was Leslie Samuel who is a full-time blogger but has also been a professor in a university among other things. He also does a podcast and, as I’ve said before, one of my favorite learning tools is podcasts. But this lesson came from Leslie’s wife.
It’s not uncommon that we all spread the word whenever we’re traveling or away from home all over social media. Sadly, some of the people who might do us harm are keenly aware of when we’re not home because we’re telling them on social media. Leslie’s wife was aware of this and asked him not to post that he wasn’t home while he was at Social Media Marketing World. So then what?
What Leslie found was that he was more engaged in the moment and more focused on being in the conference. Instead of talking about where he was and what he was doing on social media, he was able to more closely focus on what was going on in the moment. The result was that he gained much more from the Conference.
You can extend this to every day and I am the first to admit that focusing on the moment is very difficult for me. Especially with an Internet connection. The method I’ve developed for fixing this is something called the Pomodoro technique.
Effectively, when I start a task I also start a timer so I can see how long the task takes me. Then I only commit to that project or task while that timer is ticking away in the menu bar on my computer. I allow myself a certain amount of time to complete the task (obviously based on what the task is) and then stop after a certain period of time and move on to something else.
Since social media is something that is both a lot of what I do for clients and also a huge distraction for me personally I make sure that all the notifications on my phone are off when I’m focused on a task as that alone can derail what I’m doing. Airplane mode is something that has helped me.
This has both helped me with my focus and also made me realize how long certain projects were taking me. I have been using this timer for a while so I can accurately bill clients but now I have been applying it to my own projects as well.
The Pomodoro technique started from Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and goes on the theory that you set a timer, usually 25 minutes, and only work on that project in that period of time. That’s fine, but not everything I do can be easily broken into 25 minute blocks - some things take much longer, others are really quick. But seeing that timer in the menu bar of my computer is enough to keep me focused on the task at hand and in the moment as well.
When we owned the resort one of the most difficult parts of that business was the retail distractions that are inherent in that type of business. When you’re on the floor there is no way to avoid people coming and going into the lobby of the resort and this is true of many of the readers of this who have retail businesses.
Our solution was to hire someone to run the front desk for certain periods of time while I spent my time doing other projects. Unfortunately I’m a very social person too so being in the back office and hearing people in the lobby meant that I was focused - focused on wanting to go talk to those people and the team members from the resort as well. The better solution would have been to set up an office where this distraction wasn’t there.
So the big challenge to you is how you set up some way to avoid whatever distracts you most easily and focus on projects that you need to get done. Another effective tool for me is getting up really, really early and getting things done while nobody is likely to call me. For example, I’m writing this at 5:17 in the morning while my timer is running.
The writer’s mode on my word processor is also a big help in that it hides literally everything else on the computer so there are fewer distractions. Some people are intimidated by a blank page, however, so this may not work for everybody.
Lastly, I love a program called OmniFocus which syncs between my Mac, iPhone, iPad and the cloud to help manage activities, ideas, projects and more. Heck, it even works on the AppleWatch! Dick Tracy would be so jealous and he probably would have to fight fewer of the bad guys. As long as he could keep that super cool car.
I’ve been “busted” on more than one occasion by people on social media who see that both my wife and I have posted that we’re at a location and we’re both commenting on social media about something. Yes, we’ll actually both be on our phone talking about what we’re doing rather than being in the moment. She proof reads these blogs so she’ll see this. Maybe admitting a problem is the first step to making a change. I’ll check on that - as soon as I’m done with a few posts on social media.
Tools I Love
TaskLog allows you to time your various activities. You can find TaskLog for Mac on the iTunes store.
Leslie Samuel's podcast is called Become a Blogger.
I use a product called OmniFocus to manage tasks and activities. It syncs projects and tasks between a Mac, iPhone and iPad and even the AppleWatch through cloud services.