Speaking of tomatoes, as I did in my last post, I’ve been meaning to write about the Pomodoro technique, which I’ve found really useful.

The Pomodoro  (Italian for tomato) technique is a reference to those kitchen timers one sees, in the shape of tomatoes. I first heard about this in a Shut Up and Write series I did through a new scholars programme run by a Higher Education research group I belong to (HERDSA). We met online, set our goals for the session, set a collective timer for 30 minutes, and worked away in silence. After 30 minutes, we had a 5 minute break, and re-evaluated our goals. We did this twice more. Even the process of setting and evaluating goals for the available time was useful in terms of seeing what was achievable and realistic. I also found having a timer incredibly motivating and it helped my focus.

Bear’s naps, especially last year, acted as a pomodoro timer as they were, almost to the minute, exactly 30 minutes and there were a precious three of them during the day. With just Bear and I home, for the most part, I had to do all my (paid) work during those naps or while he slept at night. It’s amazing how much, as well as how little, can be done. For example, I remember when my students needed references, exactly during the period when I was also sorting marks. I was pleased to be able to help my students and to be asked for something as important as a reference. Unfortunately, ‘just’ a 10 minute task is more significant when it’s 10 minutes out of only 30 available minutes. More about how my sense of time has changed, in another post!

I have found using a timer (e.g., one on my phone) incredibly helpful, from doing domestic tasks to academic ones. Regardless of my level of motivation, setting a 15 – 30 minute timer has increased my focus and helped work more efficiently. Using a timer is something I have suggested to clients as well.

The photo is of an unexpected collection of Dr Walters tomato plants that had sprung up from tomatoes left in the greenhouse by the previous owners of our house. Notice the caterpillar too!


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