Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Using a timer to incorporate research into the work day
I am unusual, perhaps, in doing research and writing at my desk in my office at school during normal business hours. A lot of people I know think that you have to work only at home so you won't be bothered, or only in the evening. I've started using a pomodoro timer, which has several advantages. You can focus intensely for 25 minutes at a time on a specific task, and you can also keep track of how much time you spend on something. Yesterday, for example, I spent 1 session of 25 minutes on class preparation, 1 on my book Lorca: modelo para armar, and 5 on a panel reviewing grant applications. I also read a paper for an independent studies course, met with the student in question, taught my class, and a few more things. The point is, I worked in 1 session on the book (as I've already done today). On a day I didn't teach (Monday, I devoted 3 sessions of 25 minutes to that same book, accomplishing quite a bit and coming up with some ideas I hadn't thought of before. You might say 25 minutes is barely enough for a day, and I would agree with that. It is infinitely superior, though, to zero minutes. If I can manage to do double or triple or quadruple that, on a few days a week, then I will make substantial progress.
The pomodoro timer comes with breaks between the sessions. I set mine for 7 minutes rather than 5, because I have enough time. The energy is more lacking in my case, especially since I've been sick and also have undergoing a major personal crisis. I'll be on campus 11 hours today, so I should be able to squeeze in a few more sessions of pomodoro devoted to class preparation and other tasks I am behind on.