Have you heard of the time management technique called the Pomodoro? It’s where you do a task (like writing) intensely for a certain period of time, using a timer. In Monica Leonelle’s The 8-Minute Writing Habit the author suggests doing 8-minute writing Pomodoros to help you build up a daily writing habit. It works because 8 minutes is such a small time commitment that we can all tuck it in somewhere into our day.
But in my life there is other stuff that needs to get done. And, perhaps because of my Asperger Syndrome, it’s really hard to do all these daily and weekly tasks and not let things pile up because I’m distracted with other things.
So I’m using 8-minute Pomodoros today to get the laundry done. I set a timer for 8 minutes— there is a timer app on my cell phone— and for those 8 minutes I work efficiently and without letting myself get distracted on the laundry-related chore. And for those 8 minutes, stuff gets done.
It’s helpful because I’m VERY distractable. I go out to clean the garage and as I walk out there I see the lawn needs mowing so I do that. Then I remember that I need to go buy chicken feed, and take some compost material to the compost heap, and stop by my neighbor Petar’s house for a chat…. And the original task doesn’t even get started.
The Pomodoro is a great way to fight the distractions. Anyone can stay on task for 8 minutes, even people with challenges like an autism spectrum disorder.
It’s also great because the Pomodoro has an end. If you decide to do one laundry-related Pomodoro today, when the 8 minutes are up you can go do something else for a while. In fact, taking a five minute break is a part of the more traditional 20 to 25 minute Pomodoro. With the 8-minute ones, I sometimes just pause and catch my breath and do another 8 minutes. When I have done an 8-minute Pomodoro 3 times running, I’ve done 24 minutes— most of a traditional 25 minute Pomodoro. And then I can really rest and take a break.
Note to Parents: If you have a kid that has an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD, you may be inclined to impose a chore-related Pomodoro on the child. Don’t. An imposed Pomodoro isn’t as effective as a chosen one. Try doing Pomodoros yourself to get household chores done. Your child may start doing Pomodoros just from seeing you do it. And if you explain how a Pomodoro is done, and perhaps in time even suggest a Pomodoro as a way to get unpleasant chores over with, your child may adopt it then on a voluntary basis.