Pomodoro TimerDoes your mind ever jump from place to place, to-do to to-do?  Do you ever do hand-to-hand combat with distraction?  If yes, read on.

This Q&A from my weekly Saturday Secrets Newsletter really seemed to resonate. These strategies are particularly useful when we’re trying to implement goals and resolutions.

Question from New MamasI’m so distracted!  Both at work and at home, I have a million and one things on my to-do list.  So I hop from one to the next.  I never feel like I have a solid stretch of time to work on anything.  And it’s hard to get deep into those projects that require more than just a few minutes of effort.  My house is a mess, and work projects are coming out my ears.  HELP!

Mindful Return Secret:  Oh, I hear you, mama!  I’m such a big fan of being fully present at work when you’re at work, and being fully present at home when you’re at home.  But that’s so hard to do when it seems like a million unfinished things are hanging out there.

One technique I learned (from the amazing Rachel Cook’s “Fired Up & Focused Challenge”) that I simply love, is the so-called “Pomodoro Technique“.  Named after the Italian word for tomato (and a tomato-shaped kitchen timer), the idea is to commit to working in a focused way on one project for 25 minutes.  Then, you take 3-5 minute breaks between 25-minute sessions.  If your mind starts wandering, or if you think of other things that need to get done while you’re in the middle of that 25 minutes, you simply write them down and go back to the task at hand.

I’ve never been so efficient and productive – or gotten such a charge out of being focused – as I have when I’ve used this technique for getting things done at work.

Home, of course, can be a different story.  I don’t know about you, but in the life of a new working mama, snagging a solid chunk of 25 minutes (awake!) may as well be like sneaking away to the spa for an afternoon.  Impossible.  So at home, I lower the timer to a more realistic (for this stage in life) interval.  My husband and I like to tackle clutter in the evenings with the timer set for 10 minutes.  And I use Insight Timer in 5-minute intervals to fit in micro-self-care.

Try out just one or two “pomodoros” (as the plural form of that 25-minute increment is called), and see if you get that same sense of focus and psychic boost!

And then, at the end of the day, let it all go.  Let whatever you did today be enough.  Parenting IS distracting, mama.  No two ways about it.


Back to Work After Baby

Want more practical tips on working parenthood?  Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave

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