I often use a simple version of what I now know to be called the Pomodoro technique, to help me get lots of little niggly chores out of the way.
I did not know it had a name, but stumbled upon it the other day. See Wikipedia entry below:
Most translators work per number of words. I work and am paid in terms of hours. If I am translating something horrendously difficult, I often have an urge to break for a snack/cup of tea/walk when things get difficult. Not because I need a snack/cup of tea/walk, but because I want to flee from the stress of what is in front of me. So what I do is I set a stopwatch on my computer or phone, and work away for an hour, after which I take a break. If I am unable to concentrate in large blocks of time, I set myself a total target of hours for the day and I am then free to reach it whenever and however I wish. I generally find though, once I get into it, time goes really quickly.
When it comes to small niggly tasks, like household chores or administrative tasks for work, I use a slightly different method. I wait until I am doing something like
- boiling the kettle
- waiting for a tv show to start
- commercial breaks
- backing up my hard drive
and then I do as much as I can. So for example while the kettle is boiling I can unload the dishwasher. While the washing machine is on its 45 minute wash cycle I can take out the recycling, tidy a couple of drawers, sort files on my computer desktop, backup my hard drive, reply to emails. If I am early leaving for work and I have time to wait for the bus, I can plan my outfit for the following day or take my newspapers for recycling.
I also often set a kitchen timer for a short amount of time – 15 minutes say, and use that time to do a quick tidy up or get little chores done.
This means that chores don’t take on humongous proportions. You just do a little at a time, while you would have been waiting for something else anyway.
If you say ‘I am going to spend the entire weekend sorting out my wardrobe/kitchen/workshop’ it often ends with you a) not even starting because it is so daunting or b) getting about one third of the way through and ending up with chaos/a headache/waning enthusiasm. Instead of setting such a huge goal, rather spend 15 to 20 minutes a day working one one shelf or drawer at a time. You have a constant sense of achievement and the job gets done. After all, the only way you can eat an elephant is one bite at a time…
Do any of my readers do anything similar, or have any good tips?