Learning and Using the Pomodoro Technique
I live on the coast in rural Oregon, and one thing I started to realize after talking to people in my community is that nearly everyone has a side hustle—even my retired dad had a side hustle for years (collecting and re-selling vintage records on EBay) despite the fact that he had a 20+ year career working for a government agency. Some side hustles come out of necessity (maybe it’s the type of thing that you do on the side, just to pay off that credit card bill) or maybe you do it because you really really love it and making some money on the side just makes it better. In my dad’s case, he just really loves music and I’m sure it didn’t hurt for he and my mom to have a little extra cash while raising two daughters.
I recently wrote an article about substitute teaching as a side hustle on this blog. Chances are, when you come back from teaching overseas in Korea it might take awhile to get a job or just as long to even decide what you’d like to do. If you’re an educator at heart like me, it might be fairly easy to look for job openings as there are obviously going to be public schools everywhere. Even if you’re not in the market (or not qualified) for a full time teaching job, there is substitute teaching. It’s great money and super flexible. If you can figure out how to make it work for you as a side hustle, it’s a really awesome job.
When I came back from South Korea, I moved right into full time teaching at a public school and did that for two years until I burned out. I still loved teaching and being around the kids, so I continued to work in the schools as a sub. I also picked up some freelance writing gigs (which never really pay enough to treat it as more than a mini side hustle), but I am continually working on exploring this idea. Another side hustle I had was creating a coloring book, and starting my own blog as a place for myself and other writers to write about living in Astoria, Oregon. The site is called Astoria Rain (dot) com and has brought in very little if any money but still provides lots of joy to my life. I also filled in my income gaps by picking up work at a local coffee shop, which required me to dust off my barista skills from back in 2009.
I’ve gone back and forth, but I’ve settled on labeling what I do now as “diversified streams of income.” Freelancing just sounds too scary—and it can be scary to go out and get your own work as well as collect money from jobs completed. I really love the streams of income idea as it allows me to do various jobs while keeping hold of various threads of interest and creativity..
While substitute teaching doesn’t take much motivation (the hardest part is accepting the job) because once I’m locked in I will show up. I always think of the ridiculousness of a sub needing a sub, so unless I’m stuck behind a car accident on my way to a job (this has happened) or so sick I can’t get out of bed, there really is no way I won’t be there! And, with subbing, the structure of the school day is already laid out—you simply have to follow it and survive the day.
Other freelancing side hustles really take determination and intrinsic motivation, such as freelance writing. One of the techniques I’ve really wanted to try is the Pomodoro Method for efficiency in tasks. The Pomodoro method really appeals to me because I have a tendency to work in unhealthy marathon sessions. I have always struggled with moving between tasks ever since I was a kid. It takes me awhile to really get into something and when I do, I don’t want to switch. This really is not a great way to work because it can lead to total burn out. The Pomodoro method is a technique designed to help work efficiency in freelancing and studying; a “Pomodoro” is a block of structured working time on certain tasks (about 25 minutes per task) with a 5 minute break in between and a longer break of 20-30 minutes for every 4 sessions.
More detailed information about the Pomodoro Technique can be found on their website (including their book): pomodorotechnique(dot)com. But, in general, there are 6 basic points:
1. Find out how many “Pomodoros” you need to accomplish a task
2. “Protect” your Pomodoro from internal and external distractions
3. Learn how to accurately estimate how many you’ll need for a task
4. Incorporate a recap and a review at each end of your work (basically record what you did and evaluate your next task)
5. Set a structured timetable of Pomodoros for your work day
6. Find an objective to work towards or improve upon
They also offer suggestions about what to do during your 5 minute break:
• Get a glass of water
• Do some exercises like jumping jacks or yoga
• Go for a mini walk
For writing this very article, I estimated that I would need 3 Pomodoros. It turned out I was close—and during my breaks I bounced on my yoga ball and listened to a few songs on Youtube (not exactly hard exercise but fun anyway), during another break, I went to my kitchen and did some dishes and for my 3rd five minute break, I took my dog for a very quick brief walk outside.
For my writing brain, going for a walk works wonders to unstick my mind or get reinvigorated. And, since writing is a seated activity typically (I’ve never gotten used to the stand up desk idea in regards to the keyboard angle), I decided to make it a rule for my Pomorodo that I will always get up during the break (sending emails doesn’t count, or talking on the phone.) It should be something that reinvigorates your body.
Since experimenting with this technique I have already started thinking of individual modifications I could make, such as extending the break to a 10 minute walk, walking to the coffee shop, dancing or meditating. The possibilities are endless and I am excited to continue to explore the Pomodoro Method!
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