Virtuosity 11.11

Where words become worlds…

Archive for the tag “pomodoro”

Write Before Coffee

It took me nearly two years to cultivate a daily writing habit that worked. First, I went with word count, then I went with designating an amount of time for writing each day. Both of these goals were too overly ambitious, and they ended quickly.

Although I’ve written in far more detail about how to form a writing habit in a previous post, here, I will outline the two main tenants that helped me:

(1) Form new habits around the habits that you already have.
You will be more successful in creating a habit when it is associated with a habit you already have. For example, I write first, before I get my coffee. I’m a coffee addict, so there’s no way I’d forget to get my coffee. Thus, by forming a habit whereby I may not have my coffee until I’ve written, coffee becomes a reinforcing reward for the writing I’ve done.

(2) Your goal is not on productivity, you must focus on forming a habit, first.
Word count or writing for a set amount of time to move a project forward are very good goals for productivity. However, if you have not formed an addiction around writing first, achieving the productivity that you want can be difficult. Hence, the first thing you must do is form a writing habit that becomes an addiction. To do this, make your habit-forming goal reasonable and consistent. For example, I freewrite for 10 minutes every day. JUST 10. This means I know that every day, I will be writing. It doesn’t sound like much at all, but believe me, it’s not the amount of writing you do that you are trying to achieve. What you are trying to do, is accomplish the goal of getting the writing done. Every. Day.

So, for today’s writing prompt:

Think about your habits and addictions (e.g., brushing your teeth, getting coffee, taking lunch at a particular time), then schedule your writing before your normal habit. When will that be for you? Second, what’s a reasonable goal that you want to achieve in order to get this habit to work?

Need a push? Here’s some other posts I’ve written on the subject of writing sprints, journaling, and habit formation:


Write your life – get ready for writing camp!

Make a journal that captures your thoughts. Learn to think through writing, by writing every day. You can’t keep everything in your head. It’s simply not productive! So, use a journal to hold your thoughts. Use today to prepare your journal. Here’s some posts to help you get started:

Keeping a research journal

Using Evernote to track things electronically

How to find writing time

About writing sprints

The Pomodoro technique

Then, join me tomorrow on Twitter for writing camp!  We will be doing 50 minute writing sprints starting at 9 am EST, and going until 3pm EST.


#writingsprint #amwriting

I work alone on my own schedule. Although there are many perks to working alone, I found out very quickly that finding the personal motivation to put in eight hours of work a day can be difficult.  It is very easy to become distracted, and with doctoral work, you must set aside time to write, read, and think.

Fortunately, a number of my classmates and friends have developed systems for keeping each other accountable and motivated.  For me, I rely a lot on writing sprints to get me by.  A writing sprint is a designated amount of time (usually 25 minutes to an hour) where you work, nonstop, without any distractions.  I do several of these every day!

In future articles, I will share some of my strategies for eliminating distractions during my sprints.  For now, let me explain how my sprints work:


  1. I start a sprint by sending an email blast to people on my email list who have said they would like to sprint with me within the next few minutes.  If anyone is interested, they email me back – usually with goals, and perhaps a time they would like to start.
  2. We agree to an end time (usually a half hour), and sometimes share our goals.
  3. At the start of the sprint, I turn on my Pomodoro timer to keep track of my time and my goals.  My web blocker goes on, my document is up, and I commit to sitting in my seat for that full 25 minutes of productivity.
  4. At the end, I send an email to my sprint buddies, to check-in.  This is a great time to be honest with each other (yes, sometimes we end up in the kitchen mopping the floor, without any recollection of how we got there), but to also offer some motivation and support, too.
  5. If everyone is for it, you start the next sprint and so on.

Because of summertime schedules and varying goals, there are some days when I may have three sprint partners, and other days where I may end up sprinting alone.  I stumbled across an article by Story a Day, which outlines how to host a Twitter-based sprint with anyone using #writingsprint as the hashtag.  The article had a lot of good ideas, which I will be trying.

Are you interested in sprinting with me?  I’ll be posting #writingsprint hashtags on my Twitter when I’m working.  Hope you will join me!

#acwri – hashtag for all you academic writers out there!

Happy Writing and Researching!


Tuesday’s Tutorial – Pomodoro Technique

Hi everyone!

I love making tutorials for people to learn.  This tutorial is about the Pomodoro method – an easy time management technique that can really boost your productivity – especially when you are working at home and have your own schedule.

Essentially, you break up your day into 25-minute productive chunks, called “Pomodoros,” with either a 5 to 10 minute break in break in between each one.  Aubrey and I have turned Pomodoros into a science, and we squeeze out every single productive minute that we can out of them!  Here’s what we do:

  1. Start by making a plan for your day in 25 minute Pomodoro blocks.
    • Sometimes (like you will see in my videos below), a task may take a lot more than one Pomodoro to do (sometimes mine take a LOT of Pomodoros), so estimate how long it may take you.
    • For tasks that are less than 25 minutes (like answering emails, or Twittering…), group them all into one Pomodoro.
  2. After you plan your day, get rid of ALL distractions!
    • Use a web blocker to Strict Workflow, Stayfocusd and others to keep you off the web for that period.
    • Move your cell phone to a different room.
    • Get that glass of water, use the restroom, let out the cat, etc etc….
  3. Set your timer for 25 minutes and WORK.
    • Some people like the ticking with a timer – there’s actually a science to metronome training (you may hear the clock ticking in the background of my video)
    • You may prefer to hear music, or when it’s loud and hard to concentrate, I listen to white noise.  There’s lots of things you can find on Spotify and YouTube for this.
    • Find a study buddy – We call these “sprints,” where we work for a designated block of time.  I work with some classmates and Aubrey to do a sprint.  Incidentally, if you need a study buddy, and can’t find one?  It’s why I made the second video!!!!  You can study/work with me!
  4. At the end of your work period, when the time dings, quickly reflect on what you’ve done.  Think about the next Pomodoro, then… TAKE A BREAK!
    • Break for about 5-10 minutes.  Get a drink of water, restroom, or get up and stretch.  Take a brain break!  It’s good for you!
  5. Start another Pomodoro!!!
  6. Need more info?  Go to the official Pomodoro page.  I have some helpful apps listed below, after the video.

Helpful Apps and things:

Alinof TimerPro – is the timer you see in my video.  I really like this timer!

Pomodoro Time – This app has a task list where you can mark off your Pomodoros.  After it counts down a Pomodoro, it’ll even time your breaks for you.

Strict Workflow – Is a viewer browser plug-in that blocks off your websites for 25 minutes.  Very nifty!

Happy Productivity!!!


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