Beyond the Pomodoro: A salad needs more than just tomatoes.

The Pomodoro Method is among the most “mainstreamed” ideas from the personal productivity literature. (I’ve covered it here in-depth.) And it’s great — I give it my highest recommendation, whatever that means — but sometimes 25 minutes is too daunting.

Sometimes we know we’re going to be interrupted, or we have to do some chore or errand, or… whatever. There’s a million reasons why we don’t always have nice neat blocks of 25 minutes.

What then? Sometimes, I’d feel paralyzed, as if I couldn’t do anything because it wasn’t inside of a pomodoro. It felt wrong.

Then I realized how stupid that was.

I’ve trained myself to be nimble. I love a good Pomodoro, but I am now well-versed in the following other ‘Doros:

Babydoro: Do whatever task until the baby wakes up or otherwise needs you.

Wifedoro: Replace ‘wife’ with ‘husband’ or ‘partner’ or whatever — your session ends when that person requires your attention.

Laundrydoro: I sometimes remember to put clothes in the washer, but I almost never remember to move them to the dryer. But I’ve figured out a better way to remember and get something done:

Begin the session putting the clothes in the washer, end it putting them in the dryer. Boom! (Truth: I’ve only done it once but it’s a good idea.)

Phonedoro: When I’m trying to do work, I hate the idea of my phone. I don’t want it to exist. But sometimes it has to:

You called a customer service line that is “experiencing particularly high call volumes” (again) and will “call you back in the order the call was received,” an amorphous amount of time, difficult to know what to do with. Or you’re expecting a call from a family member or possible client — whatever the reason.

Here’s my idea: Go into race mode, trying to do as many small, brainless tasks as you can before the call comes in. Instead of fearing that call’s interruption, you’ve turned it into a game.

Salads are all about proportions. You need variety, but you also need more of some ingredients than others. So, too, with dependable, idiosyncratic ways to get things done and manage our goals.


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