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Self Improvement

Pomodoro Technique for Time Management

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Pomodoro Technique

In the 1980s Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro technique to get more studying done while he was in university. He named the method after his timer clock shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato). 

This technique caught on quickly and became popular because of how easy it is for anyone to implement and get started. All you need is a simple timer to get started on having undistracted, focused bursts of energy. 

This time management technique combines intense short sessions of focused work with short breaks to avoid getting mentally saturated.

Is Pomodoro for me?

If you’re the kind of person who finds themselves distracted during a workday even though you have the best of intentions to do work, you’re probably going to benefit from Pomodoro. 

You may also be experiencing some of these roadblocks:

  • You have trouble focusing. Even if you sit down at your workstation, fully equipped with everything you need, you end up getting distracted in a few minutes. Next thing you know, one youtube video led to fifty, and it’s been two hours of unproductivity.
  • You feel a lack of motivation to start. You know from past experiences that you end up getting in the flow and actually enjoying yourself every time you do start. However, starting seems to be the most challenging part. You can spend a vast majority of the day just postponing starting your work. 
  • Have trouble being realistic with goals. If you keep taking on endless tasks and spend all your time updating your to-do list and barely completing 10% of this list every day: your problem might be that you take on too much work responsibilities or don’t know how to assign work for the day. 
  • You tend to work too hard, getting enthusiastic about your work and spending hours together until you feel burned out (headache, eyes hurt) and have to take an extended break to recover. Your motivation also tends to run out at this point of burnout, it feels like your brain just doesn’t work anymore!
  • You quickly get emotionally overwhelmed. Do you start your work on a positive note and then glance at the sheer volume of work you’re supposed to do and just crumble? Work is emotionally taxing, and you always feel there’s too much of it. 
  • Have work to do that is a daily process. Whether it’s your day job, learning a new language or a passion project, lots of work needs to be done every day, and just can’t be put off for the last day to ‘cram’. You feel the lack of a daily system that forces you to get a daily input in. 

The Pomodoro technique can help people facing all of these issues because it gives you a reliable system to fall back on when work can feel overwhelming, you have trouble focusing or lack the motivation to get started on your own. 

What is the Pomodoro technique?

When Cirillo, the founder of this technique, struggled with work and assignments, he began to challenge himself to just focus for around ten minutes, and then take a break. He then tweaked the numbers and found the most effective (for him!) to be a 25-minute work session, immediately followed by a 5-minute break. 

All you need to do is to procure a timer. You can also use your inbuilt phone timer, but it’s suggested that you keep your phone switched off or on airplane mode. There are plenty of Pomodoro apps available that will alert you when your work session time is up as long as you enable notifications. I use this nifty website for my Pomodoro work sessions! (In fact, I’m using it right now to write this article!) 

  1. Set the timer for 25 minutes. This is going to be your work session. Once you start working, try your best to stay focused. If for any reason you get distracted, stop the clock and take a five-minute break. After your break, re-start your work session and begin again. 
  1. Make sure you have everything you need. If it’s the right time of day, a cup of coffee or drink to sip on, water, your laptop charger. The aim is to limit the times you have to get up for any reason. 
  1. Keep a blank notepad and pen next to you. You could also open a Note taking app on your phone or computer, but since devices can be distracting, it’s better to opt for the paper and pen.
    Every time you get distracted and break your work session, make a note of what distracted you, whether it was a physical sensation, a social media notification or someone else interrupting your workflow. Noting down the nature of distraction does two things: you acknowledge the distraction, and your brain registers it. You also can reflect later on how to avoid these distractions in the future.

    What often happens when we begin working is random thoughts and things to do come to our head. They can even be essential things, such as realising you didn’t take out the trash today or forgot to brush your teeth. It could be more benign, as you suddenly think about a cool music video you want to watch. Whatever the thought is, write it down on the paper so that you can get to it later. You’ll also experience a sense of relief that you’ve dealt with the thought. 
  1. Take your break! Ensure that you don’t stay at your workplace, try getting up and walking around the house, or getting a stretch done. Don’t make it more difficult for yourself by checking your phone, we all know it’s a trap! We suggest sticking to the Pomodoro clock even if you’re in the flow of working. A five-minute break will rarely ever break your flow, and it will usually refresh you and increase the chances of another uninterrupted 25-minute session. This is your time to refill your water, use the bathroom, or call back a missed call (only to tell them you’re busy!)
  1. If someone calls you during your work session, follow Cirillo’s advice and don’t ignore them. It will only cause more anxiety that you have something to deal with later. Let them know this isn’t a good time, offer to call them later in the day and make a note to call them after you’re done with your sessions!
  1. After you’ve done four Pomodoros, take a much longer break of 15-20 minutes. This will help you feel refreshed and avoid burnout. You can indulge in a light activity this time, maybe eat a snack or step outside for a short walk. You can even reward yourself by listening to your favourite song. Congratulate yourself on completing 100 minutes of focused work!

Tasks and Prioritization

While the Pomodoro technique closely deals with time management, it’s also integral to having proper goal setting and planning involved. If you made an extremely rigorous to-do list for yourself, even ten undisturbed work sessions wouldn’t be enough, and you’d be disheartened. 

Make sure that you prioritize important tasks over the unnecessary ones. An excellent way to do this is to first write down all the important tasks that you want to accomplish in the day, in any order. 

Then close your eyes and envision which one of the tasks is the one that will give you the most anxiety if you don’t complete today. 

Usually, the most important tasks are also the ones that give us the most anxiety. That’s why it’s the easiest to identify them because we’re usually trying to avoid or put off working on them. 

I found myself in an odd unproductive rut recently. Every time I sat down to do an important task, I would complete the other small, unimportant tasks on my to-do list. For example, if I had an important work project, I would put that off and clean my house instead. This way, I could tell myself at the end of the day that at least I did something good and useful instead of watching T.V. 

Don’t let yourself put off the important and uncomfortable tasks with less important and less uncomfortable ones. At the end of the day, if you ignored your work project by cleaning the house or watching T.V, it’s still unproductivity!

Why Pomodoro works

The Pomodoro technique makes it easier for you to just start. Rather than getting overwhelmed with the workload, it helps you motivate yourself by just starting with 25 minutes. If you think your focus is difficult to train, start out work sessions with 15 minutes instead. Either way, the technique is nothing but a template to hack your own time management!

Telling yourself sternly not to get distracted doesn’t always work. You start to do something, and then the distraction pops up. You think it’ll only take a minute, but it usually takes longer than that. Having a designated ‘Distraction Sheet’ where you note them down and a designated five-minute break to complete those desires enables you to continue concentrating. 

Good luck!

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Mindfulness

5 Things About Self-Love That You Need To Know Right Now!

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Who is the first person that comes to your mind when you talk about love? Is it your family, a friend, or your significant other? But, what about you? Self-love is important to lead a happy and healthy life in a world that keeps growing stressful and demanding by the day. However, this concept is often overlooked and misunderstood. So, here are the 5 most important things that you should know about self-love.

Must, Read Best Ways to Deal With Self-Doubt

5 Most Important Things About Self-Love

1. Self-Love Cannot Be Attained Overnight

When you’ve lived a major portion of your life disregarding your needs and value, then giving yourself the care and love that you deserve might take some time. Just like loving others, loving yourself is like a journey and a consistent process. Also, don’t overemphasize your flaws. All humans have flaws and those flaws are what make you humane and unique.

2. Self-Love is Important to Practice

Practicing self-love will inculcate a better mindset that opens more doors for you to give and receive love. According to psychologists, creating a healthy relationship, full of care and understanding, with yourself will help you form the same kind of relationship with others as well. Also, maintaining healthy boundaries is very important too.

3. Finding the Sources to Heal Is Difficult

If you are in the process of healing and are taking the necessary steps to heal, then you should be proud of yourself. Healing takes time, is quite complex, and is not that easy. Becoming overwhelmed during the process is normal and while you do become so, know that you’re not alone. Digging deep into past wounds or even reoccurring ones could be quite overwhelming.

It might be tempting to keep pushing but remember that self-love also includes acknowledging your boundaries. So, you need to step back from healing for a bit when it becomes too much to handle.

4. Give Permission to Be Compassionate Towards Yourself

One of the biggest sources of strength is being able to be kind towards yourself in life. Society makes us blame ourselves when things go wrong. As a result, time and again we make ourselves believe that we aren’t good enough or qualified enough. Rather, we should try to objectively examine the situation.

Suppressing yourself for the sake of others could be brutal towards your self-esteem. You need to consciously accept that you deserve understanding and kindness. And while you do that, your self-esteem and confidence will keep growing.

5. Do What Your Heart Asks You To

Have you ever felt as if you have to do something because others were pressurizing you to? Committing to something you don’t want to such as taking a certain career path that you don’t like could be dangerous. This might seem to resolve differences with others for a short while, it might leave you unfulfilled later on.

Loving yourself also includes allowing yourself the right to follow your own dreams and desires regardless of what others might say. That will make you happy and fulfilled.

Final Thoughts

Self-love could also seem difficult at times. It does what is best for you and you might not feel excited about it all the time. For example, sleeping early because tomorrow is an important day or not meeting your friends because you have to finish an assignment. Setting down and respecting your own boundaries is a great thing.

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Self Improvement

Four Realistic Ways to Stick to Your New Year Resolutions

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We have all been there: the festivities of December roll around and bring along with them oodles of reflection over the past year. If you’re like most people, you’ll be met with a strange mix of disappointment and inspiration.

From diet and exercise goals to breaking free from damaging habits, from creating extensive reading lists to vouching to handle finances better, the turn of the year sees all kinds of resolutions being made. However, it is not long before old habits rear their ugly heads again and all those starry-eyed promises fly out the window. If you want to break this vicious cycle once and for all and make long-lasting changes, read on for four ways to make sure that you see your New Year 2021 resolutions through!

Define your purpose and discover your ‘ikigai’

More often than not, we half-heartedly commit to ideas and decisions without taking the time to understand whether or not they are things we want to invest our energy and precious time in. As a consequence of this lack of interest and purpose, the burnout sets in pretty quickly and we end up feeling worse than before.

Do Read Guide to Goal Setting

To avoid this, firstly, choose your goals for the right reasons.  Instead of being vague about why you have set out to achieve your objectives, think and try to internalize your purpose and imagine how it sustainably fits into the larger scheme of your life.

Figure out what works for you

Different methods yield different results for people. Some are comfortable with making small changes to their daily routines and lives every day. Yet others feel that committing to a clean break makes things easier and more effective for them in the long run. In the end, it’s about what works best to serve you and your aims.

Make a clear plan with key milestones/markers of progress

Avoid being vague. Set yourself up for success by charting out a clear, well-defined path instead of being misguided by abstract ideas of progress. Create tangible trackers and markers of growth like pros and cons lists, vision boards, journals, and progress photos that you can look back at and reflect upon how much you have achieved.

Find support or relevant resources

Remember that many other people are on the same journey as you and have goals and struggles similar to yours. Reliable support from family and friends can boost you up in moments of weakness and push you to achieve what you originally set out to achieve. Staying accountable and truthful to yourself is also a crucial factor.

If you need an external community for advice, mentoring, and sharing your journey, turning to the internet is a great idea! There are countless resources and forums online on Facebook, Instagram, and also specialized apps ranging from diet and fitness (Nike Training Club, Adidas Training, MyFitnessPal) to meditation and wellness (Headspace, Calm), etc.

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Habits

Why Too Many Self Help Books are Bad for You

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Self Help

Since you’re reading this article on this blog, you probably have a keen interest in self-betterment. You’re the kind of person who has a constant hunger to grow, develop personality and achieve great things. You probably have a full shelf of self-help books at home, and reach for a new one in airport book stores. 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. Not many people, definitely not the vast majority of people are genuinely interested in self-growth. However, like any good thing in life, there is a flip-side to immersing yourself in self-help content. It can severely impact the way you see yourself, and the world around you; sometimes for the worse.

The Heroes

It’s fairly common to read a self-help book and start valorising the writer. The requisite to write a self-help book or a how-to guide is often being successful first so that you then have the ‘right’ to preach to other people. That’s why many “successful people” write memoirs or how-to guides to spill their secrets and let others know how they made it. 

A byproduct of this is the audience begins to automatically consume everything that the writer tells them as the gospel truth. We don’t doubt the credibility of someone who’s made it big. We don’t ask for much scientific backing when these successful persons tell us their life story: one anecdote is enough. 

Of course, in any field of scientific research, a single anecdote is never considered to be scientific evidence alone. This is simply because one person can never be an unbiased narrator of their own experiences. We can’t weigh their words against those of others; verify their methods with a control group. 

This is not to suggest that all writers of self-help books are getting away with lying or false information just because no one’s cross-checking (although that could be the occasional case). 

The few people who are successful in their fields and occupy positions in the public sphere undoubtedly have more experience than you and me. However, even they cannot hundred per cent explain the reasons for their success. It is generally a number of factors that act together, right connections, right timing, right pre-dispositions combined with the person’s efforts that bring them success. 

For example, if a successful entrepreneur writes about how he built his own business empire, he could give you 10 methods, or tips and tricks that he followed to stay motivated and increase his productivity. What he cannot guarantee is that this will work for everyone. He also cannot guarantee that those 10 exact methods are what caused his success.

There are many self-help books that are abundant with real-life examples, scientific studies, and academic research. These are also, coincidentally the type of books where the author relies less on his own experience as the source of his advice. These are not just more useful books to read, they also are much more informative and entertaining than their monologue counterparts. 

Survivorship Bias

One of the other side effects of surrounding yourself with lots of self-help content is that you become prey to the survivorship bias. This means that you continually consume stories and experiences of many people that have succeeded. Once we start following ‘successes’, we begin to see them everywhere. 

Social media has a hand to play in this as well. Popular social media platforms have algorithms that create echo-chambers where you only see the kind of content that you like. So if you’re only reading about positive and uplifting self-betterment content, chances are you never come across stories about failures. 

This can make you feel that there is an enormous amount of people that are succeeding and doing what you want to do. The spotlight is on the 1%, while ignoring the other 99% in the shadow. 

You might wonder why this is a problem. Isn’t focusing on the positive success stories making it more likely that you will also be successful yourself?

Surprisingly, it’s not. It can be the real reason why it’s so hard to succeed, because you can follow all the hacks, tips and tricks, and methods that you read in self-help books and still have unique challenges to overcome. This is because you’re ignoring the data from the vast masses of people that tried the very same methods and failed. 

You must be thinking: well, I should be focusing on failure stories? That’s depressing!

No, you don’t! For one, they are difficult to find. Simply knowing the information about how often someone succeeds to the level that you want to can be your tool. 

For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you should know that simply getting published has a 1% success rate while a best-selling author is probably closer to 0.001%.

This is not to discourage you from chasing your dreams, but only to help you bring a dose of reality into your pursuit of success. 

Final Words

Knowing that the advice you read in a self-help book is from a person part of the 1% rather than the 99% can stop you from being frustrated. Many people follow the methods and techniques suggested in these books and then expect instant success. 

So if you’re waking up at 5 AM for three months in a row now, and wondering why you’re not a millionaire yet: the story was never that simple! 

Congratulations to your brand new good habit, and pursuit of self-betterment, but know that there is a long way to go before we discover a complete formula for success

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