Monday, May 08, 2017

Day 1, summer

So, I mentioned the Pomodoro method yesterday?

I decided to give it a try. One of the problems I have with no set deadline and no short-term goals is that I don't work effectively. (grading is good because it's a short-term goal: I can finish it and then "put a pin in it"). Instead, I think "Oh, I have time to do this, so I'll do [this other distraction] instead" where the distraction might be spending all day on Ravelry and Twitter, or reading stuff that while edifying and interesting is not related to my current research, or something else.

I checked out Tomato-timer. This is a free online app for doing the Pomodoro method*

(*So named because Francisco Corillo, who developed it, used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to set his times)

I set my "work period" as 25 minutes each, my "short rest" at 3 minutes, and my "long rest" at 10 minutes. You work solidly for 25 minutes, then you get a short rest - when you have worked four, 25-minute periods, you get a long rest.

For me, the timer thing might have been problematic: I don't like ticking sounds around me and loud noises are bad, especially loud noises I might *anticipate*.

But the tomato-timer allows you to set a quiet "ding," like the sound of an elevator reaching its floor, and that is PERFECT for me. (And I can hear it over the music on Pandora).

This is MAGICAL for me, guys. (Your mileage may vary, of course). It hits several things I need to be able to work:

1. Not having to ask myself "uuuuugggggghhhh, how much longer do I have to work to feel like I did something useful"
2. Feeling like I have to work ENDLESSLY or to the point of exhaustion
3. Tending to not want to take breaks - I think I will use this when grading because I tend to work hard without a break until the grading is done and I burn myself out.
4. Not being able to say, "Oh, I'll take 'just' a minute and go check Ravelry" - instead, I wait until a "short break" for that. So I think I get more work done.

I did two sets of four today - in the morning, reading and starting the introductory lecture material for the new class. Then, as that first Pomodoro set was wrapping up, my research student came in and we did some prep work and discussion. I did one more 25 minute time and then ran home for lunch....when I came back, I did another set of 4 and worked on the paper.

I found I was able to work much more effectively. I think a big part of it is that it's a SET time, not a "work until you feel like you are 'done'" which could effectively be "never" because of the "goldfish" nature of academic work (supposedly, goldfish will grow to fit whatever container you put them in, the more space you give them, the bigger they get).

I also realized that doing this sort of informally, as I had been doing, meant I got more work done than it "felt" like to me. Though I like the pomodoro method because you have a very explicit indication of how much you are getting done, and the breaks do seem to keep you from burning out.


Surprise mail today. Another set of presents. I think it was because I was whinging on ITFF about my Problem Child student (and giving up my "day off"). So someone - this is always done anonymously, apparently - ordered me two things off my wishlist.

I admit, I'm embarrassed by this.

I shouldn't have whinged, it really wasn't THAT bad, and as it turned out I wound up with as much time off on Sunday as I would have taken on Friday....and I get embarrassed when people give me stuff and it's not my birthday or something.

But anyway. This is partly so I can have a webcam photo to post on Rav:

Shades of Kawaii is a coloring book - a little more "open" and less-complex designs, so it will be faster to color. (Hm. Maybe I take it over to my office along with a set of extra colored pencils, and keep it for either Pomodoro breaks or for those times when I'm "stuck" in my office - like doing a make-up exam - and just want something simple and fun). The stuffed bobcat is a Ty "Beanie Boo." It's hard to see but his (? her?) eyes are backed with a glittery thing so they are sparkly.

The bobcat's given name is Buckwheat, which makes me laugh, because I think of the old SNL bit Eddie Murphy used to do. ("O-Tay!!!!") And also my niece, when she first started talking, would say "okay" as "o-tay" and all the adults would look at each other and giggle because we'd think of Buckwheat.

(Okay. I think the bobcat is a girl. Roberta, maybe? I'll have to think about it.)

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