Doing The Experiment Chronicles for work, play, and rest has really saved my sanity this semester. Despite the Fall semester ramp up, it's been a relaxing few weeks thanks to my experiments. This week, the Pomodoro Technique made me work more efficiently so I had time to enjoy alone downtime and do some morning yoga.
I've talked before about how I prefer to break up reading assignments by pages instead of reading time and that gets rid of my impulse to put off dense reading assignments. However, using the section-off method doesn't make me less reluctant to start things like reviewing notes and practicing problems. Time for a reversal!
I decided to try a time-based technique to help me get into a studying groove. The most used time-based productivity technique? The Pomodoro Technique.
Here's how the Pomodoro technique works. First, you set a timer for 25 minutes, which you exclusively spend working. (This is one Pomodoro.) After a Pomodoro, you take a five-minute break. After four Pomodoros, you take a 15-minute break instead of a five-minute one. The breaks are proportional to the time you've spent working.
I used the MyTomatoes website which uses the Pomodoro timing and allows you to archive what you've spent each Pomodoro working on. Pomodoro7 is also a useful site with more features for complex tracking (i.e. multiple projects being juggled). If you want to go old school, just grab a (physical or online) timer and paper.
Timing my reading assignments didn't work because it broke my flow of concentration. Yet it worked wonderfully for other parts of studying. Problem sets, note reviewing, etc. are activities that can have more breaks in concentration because there's less emphasis on big-picture integration and more on sequential learning.
These activities are also very dry which makes them prime targets for procrastination. Knowing that I only had to intensely focus for 25-minutes before taking a break tremendously helped with getting started on these boring activities. Since each activity relies more on step-by-step processes, the Pomodoro breaks also helped with absorbing the information in small bits.
Play: Chilling Like a Villain - Solo Style
A College Fashion article about eating alone got a lot of reception. After all, it's more common than we'd like to admit to have anxiety about eating or doing other things alone.
Since work and school have been ramping up, I knew I would have to hunker down and be isolated for a bit if I wanted to recharge. My friends are equally as busy right now so we've all been spending most of our downtime flying solo. While doing things alone doesn't particularly stress me out, it's not what I immediately think of when I think about fun.
I decided I would do three activities by myself that I would design to be as relaxing as possible.
1) Yup, I ate dinner alone. It was at a nice restaurant. I read a book I've been meaning to read, ignored any curious glances, and had an awesome dessert. While I eat lunch alone the majority of the week, dinner is usually spent socializing. Seeing that wasn't going to be possible with everybody's schedules this week, I decided to have solo dinner be a treat.
2) Next, I went to a public library in town to study. Normally I go to the on-campus one or stay at home, but this time I was on a mission. After studying, I decided to hang out and read a stack of magazines while listening to music. This was a major form of stress relief back in high school but it's been rare in college. Seriously therapeutic and fun. I recommend 10/10.
3) Beyond eating by yourself, a lot of people dislike the idea of going to a movie alone. It became my next thing once I realized that I've never done it before. Realizations: Being alone didn't bother me at all. I thought I would maybe feel slightly judged but, nope. I'd suggest this if you want to be around people but are too tired to actually interact. Just being surrounded by people also enjoying the movie was good enough.
Rest: Yoga Bunny!
The theme for this set of experiments is apparently "chill out." Instead of health or sleep 'hacking' (feel free to imagine sarcastic air quotes being used here), I just did some morning yoga with yoga bunny. Yoga bunny is basically a series of illustrated bunnies demonstrating yoga routines. Adorable and health-promoting, what's not to love?
Like I said, there was no real hacking this time around. No fanfare. No metrics tracked. I did yoga in the morning for one minute to get warmed up for the day. The yoga helped keep me all serene throughout the day. This experiment was the epitome of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and reminded me how cuteness can seriously motivate people (also see: Forest and Plant Nanny apps).
What have you been experimenting with?
Have you ever used the Pomodoro Technique before? What do you like to do alone? How cute is yoga bunny?!