I've been using a couple of time-management techniques in the last week that have had a positive effect on my ability to focus on my most important tasks. The first is the Results Curve, the other The Pomodoro Technique. They both contain significant differences from each other, but as with many things in life, I've found that I am able to take points from both and use them in a way that works best for me. Here are a couple of the main insights I've taken from these powerful techniques. But, before I get into the techniques, I'd like to spend a moment talking about how often I've seen this idea of rhythms and the like popping up here and there. From Tony Schwartz and his latest book, The Way We're Working Isn't Working, to the Eben Pagan and his strategies for Off and On Time, to NASA's international work in advising the rescue of the Chilean Miners and how they became accustomed to light in rhythms... It just keeps coming up! The idea is a simple one but has profound consequences and implications for the way we live our lives. Humans work in rhythms, our bodies work in rhythms without our being involved (think heartbeats or breathing) or even being able to control them in many instances. Countless studies show the effect of taking breaks and allowing ourselves rest, and even more studies show how many problems arise from overworking ourselves, and the harmful effect that this has not only the work we produce, but on our lives, health, and relationships. pomodoro technique app All that being, said I've found that the Pomodoro Technique does a great job at getting me to take a step back and do some planning of my day. It does this by requiring that you list out your main tasks that you need to complete for the day and break them down into 25 minute blocks, followed by a 5 minute break. The effect of doing this is that your day becomes more easily quantifiable and you can plan your next and later days more efficiently. An example of the way that I've used this technique for my work in the last few days is that I had a gnawing task to write an article for a particular blog I contribute to that I had put off because I felt like it would take up a huge chunk of time. Using the technique, I started on the article and just hammered it home for 25 minutes on the dot, and then I walked away from it. Having allotted only 25 minutes to it for the day, I forced myself to put it off until the next day, when I came back to it, I knew intuitively that it was 95% finished. I allotted another 25 minute block to the task and soon found that i was happy with it in just 15 minutes. But this brings me to another interesting point of the Pomodoro Technique, just because you finished early doesn't mean that you stop, it just means that you have extra time to refine the project. On the other hand, if you get to the 25 minutes mark and still have work to do, the rule says to STOP, pencil on the desk...walk away. The upside to doing this doesn't always seem self-evident, but over these last days I've had that it creates a sense of order in my work process that was lacking before. This brings me to the Results Curve and how it differs in approach to time-management problems. One of the main points that the Results Curve makes is that interruptions to our work cycles are literally leaving them a shell of their potential value. Every time we sit down to work these days, something happens that takes us away from our goal and when we come back to our original task, we have lost the momentum built by just starting the project. Then of course a few minutes later we lose focus again, and the process repeats itself. The premise of the Results Curve is that if we can force ourselves to realize the incredible value we can achieve by making sure that we are not interrupted for 40 minutes at a time, our results would far outweigh any negative consequences, which the people around us would come to respect our definitiveness in character all the more.