Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting a grip on time

I am always interested in Time Management. It is so easy to let time slip away from us. Over the years I have used Time Management International's system and accompanying binder and their goal oriented approach. I have also worked with David Allen's  Getting Things Done. I also am still a big believer in Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

So an article in The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on the Pomodoro Technique caught my eye. This may be something I will have to give a try. The concept is simple, Break work in to 25 minute segments and take a 5 minute break after each segment and a 15 minute break after completing 4 Pomodoro's (segments).

I have found that the secret to making use of any of these systems is to avoid getting obsessed about using the entire system. One of the most enlightening moments for me some 20 years ago was at a refresher session with someone from Time Manager. Their system is made up of Goals, Key Areas, Major Tasks and Activities. When you set out to use the system you feel the urge to define a Goal for each of the nine key areas that exists in the planner. I was having problems with that. It made the system seem overwhelming. Instead I had focused on just 3 or 4 key areas. When I discussed this issue with the TMI expert his enlightening comment was that "focusing on just 2 or 3 key areas was great."   Basically the message was that just because their might be 9 slots it doesn't mean you have to use them.

So, I may well give the Pomodoro technique a run. But I am not going to obsess over breaking my entire day in to 25 minute segments. That will never work. The first hour long meeting I get pulled in to would create a feeling of failure for not sticking to the plan!  

Thinking about it the Pomodoro technique of 25 minute segments with 5 minute breaks fits perfectly with a great new Health site from Jen McCabe's Contagion Health. GetUpAndMove ( is a social site for healthy behaviors. It allows people to challenge each other to do a small act of healthy behavior. It encourages healthy microchoices. For example "I challenge you to run for 5 minutes if I walk for 15." Check it out and make the 5 minute break that you reward yourself with as part of the pomodoro technique a healthy break - you could dance to music on your iPod, or go for a walk around your building. It is these small healthy acts that add up to a healthy lifestyle.

It will be interesting to see if some of the Contagion Health ideas surface at the SecretDCHealthCamp that is happening on Tuesday 1st December in Washington DC. This should be a fascinating event. The event will be part physical and part virtual. We will be planning big things for Health 2.0, The Health 2.0 Accelerator and the Health 2.0 Conference in 2010. 

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