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The Pomodoro technique as a means to reaching flow

At the core I am a lazy person. At the core we are all lazy. One thing that gets me out of my laziness is if I feel inspired to do something because it is part of an inspiring vision I want to realize. Either that or if I manage to get myself into a state of flow.

Getting into a state of flow can be tricky, but once we are there we tend to become ultra-productive. Thirty minutes of being in flow can make up for many hours of non-productive laziness.

Perhaps the best tool I've found for reaching flow, even when doing stuff I don't really feel like doing and tend to procrastinate against doing, is the Pomodoro Technique.

When we procrastinate, the best way of getting out of it is usually to just start the work. Once we have gotten started we can gradually start losing ourselves in the work, discovering that it is much more fun than we expected before getting started.

The Pomodoro Technique leverages this. The basic premise is that we have our todo list for the day. We have it prioritized so that the most important item is at the top. When we start working on that item, we set a timer for 25 minutes. It might be a classic pomodoro kitchen timer, even though personally I prefer an app on my iPhone.

After the 25 minutes of intense focused work, we get a reward in the form of a 5 minute break to check social media, make a phone call, answer some message we received during our work, etc. Then we start another pomodoro – another 25 minutes of focused work. We are not allowed to do anything else when working, and if we get some revolutionary idea about something else we want to do, we just write it down and continue with the pomorodo.

The key here is that it is much easier to focus intensely on the task at hand, if we know we can look forward to a small break in just a few minutes. Then the threshold towards performing even the most boring or strenuous task is almost entirely taken away.

After a few pomodoros, I usually get into a nice flow. I often even find myself not wanting to take the breaks, because it interrupts my flow.

There is more to the pomodoro technique than what I've described in this post. Go read the Wikipedia page or whatever other text you can find on it when googling. I'm actually using the pomodoro technique as I'm writing this (and nearly all the previous blog posts on my blog this year). Right now I have 9 minutes left of the current pomodoro.

So if you are having trouble with procrastination, reaching flow when working, or on truly focusing, my recommendation would be to try the pomodoro technique.

Thanks Luca Mascaro for the header photo, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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