The Pomodoro Technique is a tool to help overcome procrastination & get things started. The pomodoro works exceptionally well for routine work. It also works well for creative work when the artist or writer needs ass-in-chair time. Knowning that you get a break every five minutes or so helps you get started, avoid distractions & get things done. When you’re doing something especially intense, the five minute breaks and longer breaks remind you to get up from your chair and strech, or do a mini-workout, or drink water.
The Pomodoro Technique doesn’t work well when you’re inspired, or in flow. Nothing kills flow faster than trying to control or interrupt it.
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.
According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task, although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.
Historical sources hint that Michelangelo may have painted the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel while in a flow state. It is reported that he painted for days at a time, and he was so absorbed in his work that he did not stop for food or sleep until he reached the point of passing out. He would wake up refreshed and, upon starting to paint again, re-entered a state of complete absorption.
If you want to do great work, you have to put the time even when you don’t feel inspired, day in and day out, keep going. But when inspiration strikes like lightening & you’re flowing and grooving, surrender to it. Smash the timer against the wall and write or paint or scheme all night & into tomorrow.