I am terrible with procrastination, just the worst. But what I find harder to do is actually get work done in my office. There are too many distractions like people eating apples (I have real bad Misophonia), people bringing in cake and insisting we eat it… you know usual PhD office stuff. If I have menial tasks to do such as typing up data, or I need to do a lot of printing then being in the office is great (socially and for £).
But if I have actual work to do it is usually a waste of time. I have to listen to music to drown out the distractions, which usually means my brain is slightly distracted anyway, and then you get into a steady stream of thought and someone asks you something and it’s all gone to pot again. This means I do much better at home. Except that at home there is washing to do, tidying (“I simply can’t work in this room with all this mess”) and lets not forget these guys:
I love my cats, and they love being fed and having somewhere warm to sit so generally everyone is happy when I work at home.
I was finding it hard to get work done the last few weeks because I am currently supposed to be in the field. I usually am out collecting data 24/7, but because my current work revolves around song collection and playback experiments I need to have relatively low noise levels. This means any time the wind picks up over 10mph I can’t hear birds, they can’t hear what I’m playing out to them and any Dictaphone notes I make to myself are drowned out by noise.
This means that I have the occasional day off for office work. This is hard because fieldwork is exhausting, physically and mentally so to have a whole day of office work in the middle of a week collecting data is not ideal. Any time I make some headway with data analysis it is put on hold for a few days whilst I go back out and do more fieldwork.
(photo stolen from google image search)
Thus brings me to the Pomodoro Technique. It has revolutionised the way I work. No more getting distracted by cats, and washing and faffing in many other ways I usually manage. According to Wikipedia the Pomodoro Technique is:
“a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.”
Basically work for 25, take a 5 minute break and repeat. After you have completed 4 sets you can take a longer break!
It sounds stupid but if I start my day making a list of things I need to get done, I actually get them done using Pomodoro. I think it is me accepting I have a very short attention span and if I bargain with myself that it won’t last forever then I can get myself to concentrate and get work done.
Plus my cats get an allotted 5 minute play time, so everyone is happy.