It is hard to be working for yourself, freelance and have to organise your own time. There are endless distractions around to lull us away from our work, art, our business, like housework, family members, friends, phone calls, texts, and social media (Easter Holidays :-), that’s why I am a bit late with my post). I am really bad for getting distracted by anything and everything. When an interesting article pops up on the internet, I notice it and once I start reading I am lost. Apparently the human attention span on the internet is like one of a gold fish. I am quite a disorganised person and a little bit of hoarder. I like to have things that I may need at hand, however it doesn’t always help to be surrounded by things that I don’t currently need. It may become a source of distraction. This creates a lack of focus and that is a problem.
I find myself most productive in my studio, where I go to make new artwork. Maybe the kind of divide between home and workspace helps. My studio is 99% of the time used for making new art. The thing is not everybody has the luxury of having an office that is solely for work and it isn’t also a bedroom, storage room, dump room etc
Also time management is a problem. How to organise time is a big challenge for many people, artists and non-artists. How do you fit everything in? How do you work on a project? I often write down big projects on a white board in front of me on my desk. I then continue to ignore them while those unfinished tasks and projects hang in the air and at the back of my mind. Maybe I am not thinking about it, but things may be lurking around hidden in my mind. I feel that getting closure on a project or task creates a sense of relief, but I don’t often get that feeling.
I would like to try a technique called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is based on a technique by Francesco Cirillo and it is a focus and productivity tool. Technique is very simple and inexpensive (unless you want to buy the Pomodoro Timer, Pomodoro Technique books, do their online course and become a Pomodoro practitioner or trainer….), all I need is a basic kitchen timer, pen and paper. There are plenty free resources of how to follow the Pomodoro Technique on the internet, free videos on Youtube etc. You can just take what you want from it.
The whole idea of this technique is a total focus and to avoid distractions. Our brain has a limited attention span, so having a 5 minutes break between each 25 minute interval for the first 4 intervals makes sense. After doing 4 pomodoros, a 20 - 30 minute break follows. The times can be adjusted to suit the individual; some people may prefer to do 50min work/10min break per interval and a longer break after 2 sessions. Whatever works for you!
First of all it is important to decide on tasks needed done for the day and estimate approximately how many Pomodoros you need to complete the task. Then work through the sessions as mentioned above.
The video from the official Pomodoro website claims 6 objectives
1. Identify how many Pomodoros per specific task
2. Protect Pomodoro from external distractions (don't get distracted)
3. Make accurate Pomodoro estimates for a certain activity
4. Use Pomodoro also for recap and review, on top of doing the work
5. Set your timetable according to the to do list
6. Set your own personal objective
The above points were sourced from: https://francescocirillo.com
Another suggestion, made in one of the Youtube videos about Pomodoro technique, was to have a blank piece of paper to note down any distractions during your pomodoro. I quite like this suggestion. It may be easy to get distracted for example by a phone call and think during your Pomodoros about the important call you need to make after the session. By writing it down, the thought has been captured and you can return to it at an appropriate time.
The above suggestion was sourced from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0k0TQfZGSc
I decided to follow the Pomodoro Technique through the month of March. I have failed a little in my own challenge as I haven’t managed to follow this through the whole month, due to getting ill and also going on a short break. However I managed to use this technique early in the month to try to be more focused. I still have long way to go to become fully productive, however I haven’t failed for trying. What this technique gave me was focus. I found it useful for focus and concentration during the time when I needed it. I would feel a little overwhelmed to plan my whole day using this technique and the neighbours might be wondering, why the kitchen timer keeps ringing next door. I would like to keep a little bit of freedom and flexibility. This technique is most useful for me when doing work on my challenges from the ‘Maker’s Yearbook’ and also while writing my blog, email newsletter or working on other business things. It is also good for getting over the initial start. Being creative is a different thing and getting in the flow is exactly what I need, so from this perspective it may be better to use it just as a starting point.
These are some works that I have been working on in month of March. Work in progress, but hopefully will have another painting or two finished soon :-).
In the next month’s blog post I would like to talk about - Analysis Paralysis.