Friday, September 16, 2011

Some Sketches, Increasing Productivity with the Pomodoro Technique

Here are a few sketches of some very animated furniture for a picture book project I'm working on.

Every two weeks I run a figure drawing session at the Pence Gallery. I was finding that my focus and productivity was really strong during these sessions, andI wondered why I didn't have quite the same focus at home. Then I realized: it was the timer. 20 minute drawing sessions are broken up by 5 minute breaks. This made me recall a similar technique that my wife had told me about called The Pomodoro Technique, a technique that many professionals use to increase their productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique

Illustrator's and freelancers often struggle with time management. It's particularly difficult to manage your time when you have an inconsistent workflow. I recently started using a time management technique called the "Pomodoro Technique." It's very simple: Set a timer for 25 minutes. After the timer goes off, set the time again for a five minute break. Then set the timer again for another 25 minutes, then another five minute break. Each 25 minute interval is one Pomodoro. After four Pomodoros you give yourself a longer break, Maybe fifteen minutes, or break for lunch. Then start again.

I'm finding this helps me in a number of key ways: for one, it cuts back on my internet use significantly. I like to use the internet. In fact I LOVE to use the internet. But I often waste a lot of time just checking in with Facebook, or Google+, or checking my e-mail. Or someone posts something on one of the social networking sites and I spend entirely too long chasing links. Well that's something better left to one of my long breaks. And the checking in stuff I can do during my short breaks. But I'm also finding that I want to do all this obsessive checking-in less when I know I have only a short time to do it. Often I'd rather spend the time eating a snack, or getting my studio for a change of scene.

These 25 minute intervals are deceptively short, but it's a good kind of deceptive. It's the perfect way to fool myself into keeping focused, knowing that there's a break right around the corner. I find this makes me a lot more productive than when I do long marathons of uninterrupted work, at least, as far as drawing is concerned. Drawing is the one activity where I really have to push myself to keep going. Writing, I can do for hours. Inking, coloring, I have no problem sustaining. But keeping up my drawing stamina can often be difficult. This technique has proven to be a great solution. 

1 comment:

  1. I find also using a timer helps in getting me to work more efficiently. I realized I have to set a goal for that time period and work toward that goal. But I'll have to try the Promodoro Technique in my studio time as well as my computer time. Thanks for sharing.