The Pomodoro Method Will Help You Write and Eat Elephants

Video transcript with bonus content




The Pomodoro Method will help you write and eat elephants. It’s true. That’s because both are big tasks that can be broken down into small portions for success.

Most new writers think about writing a book and are overwhelmed by how large the task seems. Many people with a novel or nonfiction book idea never write it because the task seems so daunting.

That does not need to be the case.  To succeed as a writer, you must break the big task into parts. That means you:

  • List the chapters.
  • Break each chapter into sections and subsections. Make notes about the content you want to include in each one. In nonfiction, these sections and subsections are points you want to make. In fiction, they are the different scenes where the characters interact and the plot unfolds.
  • Do some research. Both nonfiction and fiction book authors need ideas from others sources. You probably don’t have enough ideas yourself. You need inspiration.
  • Write your first sentence based on your notes. Write five or so sentences and you have a paragraph.  Write a dozen paragraphs and you have a section. Write 3-5 sections and you have a chapter.

You see, there is a method to the madness of writing!

Elephant Eating

How do you eat an elephant? Ask any nine-year-old and he or she will tell you, “One bite at a time.” This perpetually amusing kid joke has an element of truth. Most of us don’t know how we are going to finish our work. It seems overwhelming. The only real solution is to break big jobs into manageable parts.

The Pomodoro Technique is important when it comes to writing or eating an element one bite at a time. It is a time management philosophy and a special timer shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato) that helps you pace yourself.

The philosophy is that people do their best work in 25-minute segments, so you follow this procedure:

  1. Set the Pomodoro Timer for 25 minutes. The Tomato shaped timer is fun, but there are many timers (below) you can use.
  2. Work on your writing or dining task.
  3. Stop working or eating when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  4. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a 3–5 minutes break, then start writing or eating again.
  5. After four Pomodoro sessions, take a break of about 15–30 minutes, reset your checkmark count to zero, and start again at step 1.

It is important that you maintain this writing ritual. If you do, your productivity will skyrocket.

Give the Pomodoro Method a Chance

You can get free (and paid) Pomodoro timer apps at both the Google Play app store and the Apple app store. You can even buy a physical version of the timer at the official Pomodoro site if you wish. Here is an online Pomodoro timer you can use.

This method enables you to schedule your day and your tasks into productive time slots. It helps you focus and makes it easier to say “no” to interruptions. In fact, research shows that it helps people with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is a great tool to increase both your productivity and the quality of your work. You can benefit from the Pomodoro Technique.

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