I’m a huge fan of the pomodoro technique. Basically, you get an egg timer (or pomodoro app), set it to 25 minutes, and work on a single task with no breaks and no distractions. After the 25 minutes are up, you take a 5 minute break. I’ve experienced big productivity gains using this simple concept.
If the pomodoro technique works for individual tasks, why wouldn’t the general principle work for life?
The core motivation behind the pomodoro technique is that time is limited. You’re constantly aware of the backward clock ticking away, letting you know that your time dedicated to this task is quickly coming to an end. It’s not that different than the last day of work before taking a vacation. Due to the time constraint, you feel an urge to hyper focus and get as much work as possible done.
Most people treat their life as something infinite, which is completely understandable. Unless you have a near death experience or lose a loved one around your same age, death isn’t really something you think about. It would be a little depressing to dwell on mortality. I agree with this in the traditional sense that, “Why get out of bed today? I’m just going to die anyway.” is a horrible way to go about life. But there is another way to think about this.
If you flip your view of time from an element that accrues to something that is running out, much like a candle, your whole mindset and approach to life changes. You focus. Small things don’t bother you as much. You lose your patience with frivolity. It becomes very difficult to watch a lot of TV. Most important of all, you realize that you have an asset which will one day be lost. To really appreciate anything, you have to realize that it might one day be out of your grasp.
I subscribe to the notion of life as a backward clock so much that I now wear this watch for a daily reminder.
If you have trouble focusing or feel as though you are wasting time, try flipping your view of time as something that accrues to something that is running out. Only then will you appreciate the time you have.
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