Last night a tomato saved my life

In last week’s post, I whined a bit about how much trouble I’ve been having actually getting down to the work of my thesis project. I am the queen of procrastination — when there’s work to be done, you can bet that I’ve got a million other little tasks that would rather get done than the actual work on the TO-Do list. Is it merely the To-Do list itself that kills the work impulse?

Anyway, after I posted last week’s rant, I got a very nice note from a Fiona, a faithful blog reader. She suggested I check out a website called ‘My Tomotoes’ — here’s the link: http://mytomatoes.com/ to help me with my little focus problem. And dear readers, let me tell you, this site has CHANGED MY LIFE.

Oh yes, the ol’ tomato-timer is now my constant companion when there’s work to be done.

Here’s how it works:

When you call up the tomato-page, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to ‘start tomato’ — clicking on the ‘start tomato’ button will call up a great big timer that’ll start you at 25 minutes and will promptly begin counting down the minutes to zero. At zero, a little timer, akin to an old-school kitchen timer will go off, letting you know you’ve successfully put in 25 minutes worth of work, and have now earned a 5-minute break, which it will also count down for you. You’ll also be prompted to write a line about what you did with your 25 minutes.

Sounds simple, right? Seriously, though, I can’t tell you how effective it is to have to answer to someone when there’s work to do, even if that ‘someone’ is a big dumb timer curiously dubbed a ‘tomato’.

What’s nice, too, is that as you work through your day, you’ll amass a whack of ‘tomatoes’ –each one summed up in a line explaining what a busy little bee you were. At the end of it, you’ll have a nice long list itemizing all the stuff you got done — which in turn helps cut down on the anxiety (brought on by feelings of ‘ahhhrg! another whole day gone – and what have I got to show for it!?’). Now I’ve got a list.

Definitely check this out: http://mytomatoes.com/

Then let me know if you find it a help, or merely a silly distraction.

P.S. It wasn’t this tomato that saved my life. I like that he’s giving me a ‘thumbs up’, though. We all need a little encouragement, right?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Last night a tomato saved my life

  1. Barbara

    Hey Meredith,
    Always enjoy reading your blogs. Good to know you are out in the ether doing your thesis work!

    Two quick comments
    1. June 30–glad you mentioned the U of Melbourne “research”. This was also raised in a profile piece on procrastination in The Journal back in March. In a letter to the editor, our unit sent quite a lengthy rebuttal to this and other claims that procrastination has an adaptive side. Although there are types of avoidance which are adaptive, procrastination is maladaptive in that guilt (and exhaustion from working-hard-to-get-out-of-work) is involved.
    2. June 23–I have “converted” dozens of students to My Tomatoes since it was introduced to me by a PhD student this past winter. Glad you sent it out in the blog.
    Cheerio, Barb

    • Claire

      Hi,

      As a terrible procrastinator – whose life has also been much improved by the pomodoro – I’d be very interested to be directed to the rebuttal you mention, if it’s available online, or to similar writings.

      Thanks.

  2. This is great! It has been helping me feel much better about writing my dissertation draft revisions. Thanks for posting!

  3. Hi Meredith,

    I’ve been meaning to send you a note about your blog. I’ve been following it through the RSS feed. I love reading your posts and look forward to your entries every week.

    As for this particular post, I actually decided to try it a couple of weeks ago to help motivate me in setting up my own business. I also have deadlines to meet and proposals to write.

    I have to say this little online tool has helped me with my productivity. Thank you for blogging about it.

    Take care,
    Maureen

    • Maureen! So good to hear from you. Thanks for your nice comments – I’m glad the little tomato program is working for you! It really saves me on some days…I’d love to hear more about your new business sometime. Hopefully our paths will cross soon!

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