A process I’ve been constantly working on improving is my own time management. I did try some models like pomodoro, etc. but none worked out of the box. It might be that I am very easily distracted (like when I have to run a production Angular build and spend the time waiting on Twitter) or that different people just require different models.

In this post, I want to lay out a very simple technique for me. It is so simple that it feels almost ridiculous to write a blog post on it, but considering that it took me some time to find it, sharing it might help people.

My two main goals for time management are:

  • high velocity with little lost focus
  • gratification in any case (even if the work is dead-boring or very draining — like studying calculus)

The strategy

While not in flow, I have found 45 minute focus blocks (just like with classic pomodoro) to work best for me. It is short enough to keep the gratification coming for boring task by looking forward to my break and it is long enough to get work done in a batched manner.

The breaks are variable in size: depending on how my day is scheduled (for example: I might need to do some errands at home) and how draining the task is, the breaks can be between 15 to 60 minutes long. The 60 minute break works especially well for very boring or draining tasks, while the 15 minute breaks are great for any kind of work and make checking Instagram or any messages feel more gratifying as they’re not abused as procrastination methods.

I usually block out a big chunk in my calendar as the timeframe where work/studying will happen. Then, I will start putting in the break/work blocks to force myself not to become distracted. Often, I even leave the calendar open on my second screen to see how far I have come.

Avoiding distractions

Surely any guide will tell you this, but it’s worth noting: I put my phone to silent (do not disturb on iPhone) or work mode (in case I need to be reached by business contacts). Checking it in breaks is totally fine, but not during the work blocks.

Breaks are designed to be fulfilling, so I usually leave my workplace as soon as the break starts. Often, I’ll grab an easy read or do something around my flat to wind down.

That’s it for now. If I find some more adjustments for better time management, I’ll update this post :-)