In Praise Of Tomatoes

This week I rediscovered the glory of the Pomodoro. Not a tasty Italian tomato, alas, only the method of time management, thus named for those cute tomato-shaped kitchen timers you can set to short intervals.

It’s honestly shocking to me that between the drafting stages of one book to the next, I completely forget this technique exists, which is insane, because it is literally the most useful tool I’ve ever come across for getting lots of writing done.

(Today I printed this picture and stuck it in front of my desk to remind me: open and sit your arse down for 25 minutes, drafting stage or no, missy.)

Here’s what you do: set a timer for 25 minutes. When it goes off, take a break for 5 minutes (5 whole minutes, no sneaking back at 3:30.) Repeat.

I will usually set myself a goal of working through 3 consecutive Pomodoros, and then I’ll take a longer break, maybe 30 minutes or an hour, then do another 3, and it honestly shocks me how much gets done.

Having a short sprint followed by a sanctioned break rids my brain of all the chatter and distraction of what else I could be doing, because I know that in less than 25 minutes I can go and do it! So liberating.

Pomodoros can also be so helpful for journalling, especially when you’re writing about stuff that’s hard, or hazy things you’re trying to figure out but don’t have much clarity on yet.

You can also adapt the technique if journalling for 25 minutes feels unrealistic: write for 5 minutes, take 1 minute off to get up and walk around, reflect on what you’ve written, maybe have some water, and then come back to it.

You’d be amazed how much can come out in 5 focused minutes, especially if you start with a prompt or a specific idea to write about. And if you do another round, the progress can start to feel exponential.

So here’s my challenge to you today: 5 minutes writing. 1 minute reflecting. 5 minutes more writing, 1 minute more reflecting. 12 minutes to spend with yourself, getting cosy with your own mind, cultivating your own inner world. Go!