Monday, January 31, 2011

Open Quarters - An Interesting Flow Trick

Here is a time management technique I've been using lately. Grab a timer and set it for 25 minutes. Write down something to do for that period of time. Activate the timer and focus on the task and nothing else. When the timer goes off, stop if you want to.

This is a lot like the Pomodoro Technique. However, the difference between Open Quarters and Pomodoros are that you have the option of continuing your line of thought instead of taking a break. This leads to less procrastination, less self-consciousness, and loss of a sense of time. In other words, it promotes flow.

Let's look at procrastination. If you don't obligate yourself to working for more than 25 minutes, then starting is easier. It's hard to start on something that takes hours to do. Committing to a shorter period is easier and less intimidating.

It also helps beat back self-consciousness. With permission to quit after 25 minutes, there's less reason to judge yourself. You only go beyond that interval because you want to, not because you have to. And if it doesn't become interesting, that's fine too. Don't force yourself.

Last to consider is time sense. The problem with the Pomodoro Technique is time is never far from your brain because a timer going off every 25 to 30 minutes reminding you of it. In an open quarter, the timer goes off once and then stays out of your way if you choose to go on. However, if you do choose to continue, you'll be surprised how much time flies as a result of a project becoming fun and interesting.

I hope the Open Quarter technique helps you focus on your own endeavors as it did in helping me write this blog entry. And without further ado, it's time for you to close the blogs, set the timer and agenda, and get back to work.

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