Crush your ADD tendencies using a Pomodoro.

Crush your ADD tendencies using a Pomodoro.

ADD. Attention Deficit Disorder. You hear this term so often now “She’s so ADD” or “Oops, that’s my ADD kicking in again.” Seems like many people have just self diagnosed.  I believe most are just suffering from ADD tendencies created by our time crunched, multi screen lifestyles. The constant stream of Facebook updates, Twitter streams, and 24/7 streaming video, news, weather, celebrity updates.  It’s difficult even for the most focused of us to get stuff done. There are a lot of “get stuff done” systems out there. Sure!!!!  Just add one more checklist or website I need to go to to get stuff done, right? No thanks.

The High Intensity Answer

I’ve stumbled upon what I believe is an excellent solution for those with ADD tendencies. The answer lies in high-intensity training methods. Recently, I switched from traditional workouts, maybe two or three times a week to daily workouts, incorporating high-intensity training for short 20 minute periods.

This has been very effective for several reasons. When you know you can get something done in 20 minutes, there’s less dread involved in the task. Using high-intensity training, my workouts are so quick that they’re over before they feel like they’ve gotten started. The big advantage here is that I can always find 20 minutes to squeeze one of these in daily. This versus the two or three days a week I was trying to fit in a 60 minute workout which was significantly more difficult.

This worked well for me, so I began thinking about how the  theory behind high intensity training could be applied to other everyday tasks. In my search, I came across the Pomodoro technique.

Are you ready, because it kicks ass.

The Pomodoro technique was named after a popular kitchen timer called the Pomodoro.  This is a basic 25 minute kitchen timer.  The Pomodoro technique involves focusing on single tasks in 25 minute intervals. The technique is designed to block and manage distractions during these intervals. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to set a kitchen timer on your desk. You can use any timer, or your smartphone, to time your intervals)

The technique works by training you to block distractions during, and completely focus on, the single task at hand during each 25 minute period or “Pomodoro.”  Once you start a Pomodoro, you’ve committed to avoiding any distraction until the 25 minute period of focus is completed. It’s fine to mentally acknowledge a distraction and then train yourself intentionally avoid it.  See – just now I acknowledged a distraction to search for the Molly Cyrus Wrecking Ball video I heard someone talking about. By the time I finish typing this, that distraction may be forgotten. If not I can just get to it after this interval.

Over time you learn to use these Pomodoros effectively, assigning one or more to each project you need to get done during the day. You’ll learn to quickly estimate how many Pomodoros certain tasks will take. For instance, this blog post may take two Pomodoros with a break in between.

 Eliminate Burnout

Just like in interval training, the breaks are important.  Essential to the Pomodoro method is the notion that taking short scheduled breaks while working helps eliminate task burnout and keep you focused.

Conclusion

The endgame is you get more done and take more breaks. You’ll find that the 25 minutes of focus makes it a lot easier to ignore phone calls, tweets and other distractions while that timer is running. It also helps you identify the distractions. When I first started using it, I had to set my phone, with the timer running, in clear view so if I had the urge to check something online or pick up my phone, I quickly saw I had X number of minutes left in that interval.

The more you do this, the better you’ll get. Check out the video and read the book on becoming a Pomodoro Master. Clearly something you’ll be able to brag to your friends about.  “Wow, who would’ve thought Brad would ever become a Pomodoro Master.”

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