I’m working on becoming more productive. This summer has been a particularly terrific one for me – I learned 6 new pieces. Well, actually 3, but they were in two different languages. One set was in English, the second in Irish Gaelic, in which I’ve never sung before. I organized my practice time well, but I think I could do better.
Today I read about the Pomodoro Technique, which was named after a Pomodoro Timer used by the creator to keep track of time.
There are six steps in the original technique, found in this article in Lifehacker:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase, tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To Do Today” list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodoros are completed, they are recorded, adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
So, how can we use this for practicing? And do you need a timer shaped like a tomato?
We all have timers. On our phone, on the microwave, everywhere. Maybe you don’t have 25 minutes in a row. Maybe you have ten minutes to do vocalises. Set the timer for ten minutes. Then do what else you need to do. Then go back and work on one song, and really focus on it for another ten minutes.
Another great source for time management, specifically for singers, is a podcast by a friend of mine, Megan Ihnen. It’s called Studio Class. The episode I listened to today was about “Diva Metrics,” and one of the things that really struck me was the idea of the Ten Minute Meeting. (Podcast also available on iTunes.)
Check it out and see what works for you. I’m going to start with the Ten Minute Meeting tomorrow morning and then do things later with the Pomodoro Technique.
There’s a lot to do before the fall semester begins! (Studio policies come to mind first!)