Summer is coming to an end and my actual job doesn’t let me get summer holidays. In fact, summer is the busiest time of the year for me, and I go up and down on the road to get to my research sites, chasing storms.

I don’t know about you, but me, I’m starting to feel exhausted. My energies are getting low and it’s getting harder and harder to focus when I sit down in front of the computer to write. It’s like my mind is going on a strike and I just stare at the blank screen –or even at the filled screen– not with writer’s block, but with a buzz around my thoughts. In fact, my mind is brimming with thoughts not just of my writing, but also regarding work, and I just can’t seem to focus them enough to let them out.

So, what to do? Take a vacation? I wish!

No, I need to keep my vacation time for winter holidays, so I have to keep going –and strong! The semester is about to start.

In lue of a vacation, I have had to come up with a way to get myself out of that fuzzy state.

Enter here: the pomodoro techinique.

For those who don’t know about it, it is a time management tool invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s –according to Wikipedia.

The steps to make it happen are the following:

1.- Choose your task.

Make it a challenge, but not one of Hercules’ seven labours. Choose something you can finish in 25-30 minutes, like a certain amount of words, read a chapter, organize your spreadsheet, calculate your tax return…

If you know you won’t finish in that time, you won’t focus.

2.- Put a 25 min timer.

3.- Get to work!

Here is the key to get this working: don’t stop for emails, text messages or whatever distraction life throws at you. You’ll have time later.

4.- Rest for 5 minutes.

Here you can check your Facebook, Instagrams, Snapchats or whatever here! Or maybe you can take a small walk. Too much sitting isn’t good for us!

(You can increase the time of rest if you’ve been cycling for a 4 to 5 times already)

5.- Repeat.

There is something about knowing that I only have 25 minutes to fulfill a task that gets me focus in no time. Maybe it’s the challenge of finishing it before the timer sounds, or knowing that 25 minutes isn’t such a long time before I can check my phone again –Yes, I’m addicted to my phone.

I don’t know if there is a science behind the way this timer forces focus without a lot of pep talks on my part, but it works. Also, by choosing tasks I can finish in 25 minutes, and by actually finishing them, I feel so much more productive by the end of the day.

If you want to try it, here are a few websites that let you program the timer:


What other techniques do you use to focus when your brain just refuses to cooperate?