The time of coronavirus has its own strange mindset. We find ourselves going through periods of extreme distractedness, unable to focus on projects we’d like to be doing, getting up after only a few minutes only to lose ourselves in reading the news —”doomscrolling” — or taking a nap. Corona distractedness has a quality unlike any we’ve encountered before, a product of the extraordinary disconnection, limbo and low-grade anxiety we’ve experienced for months. We’ve heard other normally disciplined people complaining of the same thing.
Dean Kissick described it perfectly in his New York Times article This Time-Management Trick Changed My Whole Relationship With Time
We waste hours keeping on going when our concentration’s long gone, caught in drowsy, drawn-out moments staring glumly at a screen, and not only when we’re supposed to be doing our jobs…
Leisure time has also taken on a timeless, hypnotic quality lately…An everlasting present expands around us in all directions, and it’s easy to get lost in there — all the more reason to set some boundaries.
As an antidote, Kissick employed a practice we used in the past and found effective: the Pomodoro Technique. You work for 25 minutes at a time with 5-minute breaks in between. After each set of four 25-minute intervals, you take a 15 to 30 minute break before continuing
We’ve found timed pulsing of focus and rest incredibly effective in helping us settle into the tasks our scattered selves have difficulty focusing on. And to find pleasure in doing them. We even time our time scrolling on our phone to forestall getting lost.
We use a simple, clever Time Timer that graphically shows the countdown of minutes in red, and then rings a bell.
Kissick sums up the greater benefit of timed working and resting:
It has forced me to think about what I’d most like to be doing every day instead. It has made me see time afresh — as something we really don’t have enough of, as something precious precisely because it’s ephemeral.