I recently bought a Nikon D3200 and decided to actually read through the 212-page instruction manual. It’s not what I usually do, but given some of my past experiences I decided it is better not to overlook the manual this time. Thanks to the Pomodoro technique, the experience wasn’t that boring at all.
Several months ago, I bought two bookshelves from IKEA. The picture made them look so easy to put together that I offered to take the other one after my sister carefully followed the instructions to assemble hers. I thought I would take me less time if I just looked at her piece, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. I ended up confusing the boards and using the wrong screws a couple of times.
The camera I just bought is an entry-level SLR, but its operation mode is similar to the more advanced and professional ones, like my cousin’s pricy Nikon D800. I still couldn’t figure out why it was better than mine, despite playing around with it.
I managed to read the first 20 pages quickly and learned to put the camera together so it was ready to take photos. After the initial excitement, I almost repeated what I used to do: use common sense and wing it, until I happen to read about Pomodoro, a technique that helps people focus and a colleague recommended on the blog.
The technique gets students to break up intensive study periods into timed short periods between shorter units of rest. After a set of Pomodoros (four 25-minute periods of non-interruptive reading in between of three five-minute break), I was surprised to have read half the manual with camera in hand. I managed to explore functions that I would never have figured out through common sense.
Instead of setting everything on automatic, I was able (although not skillfully) to use various manual controls. Not at all a bad way to spend two hours that I would normally use to watch TV or play Plants vs. Zombies.
Unlike casual reading, setting a Pomodoro to study is like making a commitment. The rules is, no matter what happens, you deal with distractions later and continue your task. It is better to use at home than in the office because there are really few urgent tasks you need to do immediately. If you tell your family members in advance not to pop in during the timed periods, your experiment is more secure.
Make a commitment before you set the Pomodoro. Ask yourself if there is anything more important to do during this timed period. If not, there is no excuse to idle when the timer is running. You can also download the to-do sheet and task inventory sheet to better organize your time.
You can buy a cute-looking official Pomodoro tomato timer here or a knockoff on Taobao. I downloaded a Pomodoro app for Android (also available on Apple and iPad); when the timer is set, no other functions pop up. The app is free, so give it a try!
Photo: Wikimedia Commons