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Quick Tip: The Pomodoro Technique for Authors

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on June 25, 2014 in Book Writing, Productivity & Organization
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The Pomodoro Technique for AuthorsOne of my favorite productivity tools in my freelance writing and blogging work is a timer. I use something called the Pomodoro Technique which breaks down my work into small, manageable periods of time. It's a great way to stay focused and push yourself to see how much you can do in a short stretch. And it turns out, it works well for writing books and e-books too.

For this week's quick tip, let's take a look at what the Pomodoro Technique is and how you can make it work for you as an author.

How the Pomodoro Technique Works

The Pomodoro technique is all about mapping out your work schedule based on alternating work periods and breaks. That involves planning. But it also involves challenging yourself.

You do that with a breakdown like this:

25 minutes of work / 5 minute break

After every four sets, you would take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.


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So here's my basic schedule when I write using the Pomodoro Technique:

  • 25 minutes working
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minutes working
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minutes working
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minutes working
  • 30 minute break

Then it starts all over again.

Another way to think of it is taking at least a 10 minute break each hour that you work.

The longer breaks are great for unwinding and clearing your head. You can go for a walk, take a short nap, read a book, or do whatever works for you.

How the Pomodoro Technique Can Help Authors

I'm sure at least some of you are wondering how you could ever write a book in 25-minute increments. But it really can help. And remember, you don't have to use it every time you work. Here are a few ways you might be able to make it work for you:

  • Challenge yourself to hit certain word counts in each Pomodoro.
  • Optimize the time you spend outlining or conducting research.
  • Push yourself to get through the first draft of each chapter or scene quickly (great if you're taking part in a timed challenge like NaNoWriMo or if, like me, you prefer quick and dirty rough drafts with more focus on later revisions).
  • Squeeze in more writing even when you only have a little bit of available time (like running through a Pomodoro or two while the baby naps).

The big benefit is that the Pomodoro technique makes you much more aware of how you're spending your time. That makes it easier to see where you can improve your productivity in general.

If you want to work with longer writing periods, you can always customize the plan to work for you.

Two Tools for the Pomodoro Technique

Here are my two favorite timers that I use when working with the Pomodoro Technique:

Share your own Pomodoro tools recommendations or other productivity tips for authors in the free All Indie Writers forums.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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9 Comments

  1. Lori June 25, 2014 Reply

    It’s simpler than my method, for sure. I set the Project Timer, then get to work. I have to remember to turn it off each time I stand up or answer an email, but it works because I can see exactly how much time I’m spending on work and how much time is being wasted.

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern June 25, 2014 Reply

      That’s definitely another way to user timers, and better for freelancers if they aren’t sure where all of their billable time is really going. :)

  2. Anne Wayman June 25, 2014 Reply

    I time myself often, but not to push myself to get something done… I push myself without a timer and I want to know for sure how much time I’m spending… might experiment with this to see how/if it helps.

    Love eggtimer… I use it to, guess what, time cooking when I’m cooking and writing…
    Anne Wayman recently posted…09 – Freelance Writer Business Problems – Why Will They Hire You?My Profile

  3. John Soares June 25, 2014 Reply

    This is a great technique that I’ve used for years in one form or another. Lately I’ve been doing about 50 minutes of work and then taking 10 minutes or so completely away from the computer to do small chores or some stretching, or to take a short walk.
    John Soares recently posted…Why You Need Much More Time OfflineMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern June 25, 2014 Reply

      A great example of how you can customize it to meet your own needs John. :)

  4. Alicia Rades June 30, 2014 Reply

    Nice tip! I definitely think this is something I can apply to my freelancing work, too. I’ll have to try it out.
    Alicia Rades recently posted…One Quick, Easy Way to Add Value to Your Web ContentMy Profile

  5. Hoochie July 18, 2014 Reply

    The Pomodoro Technique is actual good, I enjoy it for 5 years. overcome my procrastination and get more done. Thanks!

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