20 Minutes of Focus

Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
— Alexander Graham Bell

About a month ago, I found myself reading an article about the Pomodoro Technique, labelled perfect for those with short attention spans. I was in the middle of writing my morning pages so I guess my phone must have mysteriously displayed a picture of a bright red tomato, the Pomodoro timer, and distracted me. Hah....short attention span.

The technique sounded simple and attractive: set the timer for 25 minutes and commit to work straight through. Then take a 5 minute break. After four such 25 minute sessions, take a 20 or 30 minute break and then start over. Testing it, I used the timer on my phone and finished writing my pages. It was like play.

This is how my version works, using an "apple" phone as a timer:

  • I ask Siri to set the timer for 20 minutes.
  • I commit to either read, write, do artwork or yoga for that span of time. I don't respond to the sounds that my phone, stomach or brain might elicit.
  • I'd like to read and do yoga for at least an hour a day, do artwork (write, draw, paint and take pictures) for at least 4 hours a day so I keep a running tally for each.

I've always been a deadline stalker and thrived on the adrenaline that the final twenty-four hours required.  Now that I have the luxury of spending much of my time alone and doing what I've always wanted to do, I've had to reinvent my relationship with time, or at least renegotiate it. So far, I feel as though I'm playing beat-the-clock while tackling some long, overdue stuff. It's fun, productive, and bizarre.

Is it possible to use reverse psychology on yourself?