How to Get More Done in the Time You Have #BookReview #Pomodoro

Book: The Pomodoro Technique: Do More and Have Fun with Time Management Francesco Cirillo
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: FC Garage
Publication date: 2013

Source: Purchased the Kindle edition from the book’s website.

The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

Pomodoros changed my life, improving how I manage time and tasks.

Summary: The basic technique of the pomodoro is easily explained. Well, once you understand that ‘pomodoro’ is the Italian word for tomato and that a popular kitchen timer in Italy is in the shape of a tomato.

A pomodoro is 25 minutes of time focused on a chosen task. Choose your task, set your timer, don’t allow interruptions for any reason short of a fire alarm. When the 25 minutes are up, take a break. Repeat.

Of course, you don’t need a whole book to explain that. The book helps you take that basic technique and turn it into a way of gradually improving the efficiency of your entire work day.

Thoughts: I must have encountered pomodoros when the first edition of this book came out in late 2006. I’ve used them on and off for years, but recently decided that they might help me structure my days better. I was suffering from too long To Do lists and too little time focused on the tasks on those lists. I purchased the latest edition of the book to see if I could build a new way of doing things around it. I’ve been working with the system for a little over a month.

The Pomodoro Technique has helped me plan my day better. By framing things in pomodoros, I’m able to predict how much can be done in a day, so I’m no longer putting twice as many tasks on my to do list than can possibly be completed. The pomodoro, itself, has helped me stay focused on each task as I do it, so that I’m being more efficient when I work (Facebook videos have to wait until the breaks between pomodoros). I usually get up and walk around a bit during my breaks, so it’s helping the step count on my Fitbit, too!

I’ve made The Pomodoro Technique my own by using playlists as my pomodoro timer. Spotify shows how long a playlist is, so I can make them about 25 minutes. If you’re on Spotify, you can check out my lists:

I started making playlists for this purpose after reading Your Playlist Can Change Your Life by Galina Mindlin, Don Durousseau, and Joseph Cardillo. So, most of my lists take their suggestion to start with a brain-engaging relaxed piece. Then, I add instrumental music, switching styles with each pomodoro so that I don’t get bored. I like up-beat music when I work to keep up the energy, but that can include everything from Mozart to Joplin to Copland. I think my next new one will feature Charlie Parker.

Appeal: This book suffers a bit due to the formal style of English and the highly structured style of an engineering mindset. Be patient. What it lacks in readability, it gains in usability. If you’re a more visual or right-brained person, I suggest making a mind map as you read the book to help keep track of the various components. The subtitle is correct — this system is fun when you actually start playing with it.

Mind Map of The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

My messy mind map of The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

2014 Nonfiction Reading ChallengeChallenges: This is Book 12 in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge for 2014 — I should make my goal of 16 books easily enough.

Do you think the Pomodoro Technique would help with the time and task management challenges in your life?

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Every Day for a Year #ReadersWorkouts

logo for Readers' WorkoutsWelcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I did it! My walk with a friend on Saturday was my 365th day in a row. We walked from the farmers market to the park and back. She took my photo when we finished our shopping at the market.

Joy at Farmers Market

Me, after the walk that represented my 365th day in a row of exercise.

There’s not much point in stopping my streak now, so I’m continuing my daily exercise. Of course, I’m lucky that I didn’t have a serious injury or illness in the past year. But, it’s also likely that the cause and effect runs the other way. My body likes low-intensity, high-consistency exercise. With that, I’ve rid myself of both over-use and under-use injuries and aches and pains. I also think that the mood-boosting and sleep-inducing effects of regular exercise improves my immune system. I might as well keep going with what works.

How are you doing with your exercise right now?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

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Sunday Salon — mini #Bloggiesta edition

Mini Bloggiesta July 2014So far, all I’ve managed from my Bloggiesta To Do List is my backups and updates (but I was way behind on that, so I’m thrilled it’s done!) and a bit of socializing. I’m hoping to join the Twitter chat today (1PM Eastern, noon Central).

I’d so love to meet the challenge by Coral of Book Bunny PR to write 5 blog posts, but most of the posts I want to write are book reviews. A review, usually, takes me two hours to write, so I’ll likely run out of day before I get to 5 posts. Maybe, I’ll count this post….

Are you doing Bloggiesta?

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Mini #Bloggiesta July 2014 To Do List

Mini Bloggiesta July 2014I’m getting a slow and late start on this mini-Bloggiesta, which started this morning. I can spend about 90 minutes on this today and a bit more tomorrow. Because of that, I’m going with a very low-key to do list. Also, it’s much less technical than my normal ones — more focused on pre-scheduling new posts than making improvements to the backstage area. But I do want to do my normal back ups and software updates because it’s been too long.

  • Back ups and updates
  • Hop the blogs of other participants, especially folks participating in the Google+ Community
  • Join the Twitter Chat (tomorrow at 1pm Eastern, noon Central), #Bloggiesta
  • Write and schedule reviews and posts — I have a backlog of ideas

Will you be participating in the mini-Bloggiesta this weekend?

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Interview with Pies & Peril Author #WeekendCooking

Pies and Peril by Janel Gradowski

A fun cozy mystery with descriptions of amazing baked goods and other foods

Last week, for Weekend Cooking, I reviewed Pies & Peril: a Culinary Competition Mystery by Janel Gradowski. This week, Janel stopped by for an interview!

Do you bake every thing that Amy bakes? Or, are these treats for your imagination?

Most of the foods start out as imaginary dishes. I keep track of every food that is mentioned in a story and then decide which ones I want to develop into actual recipes. Once in awhile, like for the tomato pies, I come up with the recipe first and then integrate it into a story. I came up with that recipe last summer when I couldn’t resist the heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Not only did the pie make it into Pies & Peril, so did the farmer’s market, although the one I go to isn’t quite as crowded as the fictional one in Kellerton.

As a librarian, I’m always interested in the research that authors do for their books. What research was required for Pies & Peril and what were your best resources?

I didn’t really have to do a lot of research for Pies & Peril. I love watching Food Network and Cooking Channel. I also have a huge collection of cookbooks. Between those things, the many cooking blogs I follow and Pinterest I found lots of ideas for the foods I mentioned. The book is set in a fictional Michigan town. I have lived in Michigan my entire life, so I took bits and pieces of the many cities I have visited in the state and turned them into Kellerton, the small town where Amy lives. I guess you could say paying attention to things in my everyday life was the research.

Is Pies & Peril the first in a series of culinary competition mysteries? Can you give us a clue about what we can expect next?

I am working on the next book for the series. I will also be writing a short story based on the series that will be published in an anthology for the holiday season. For Book #2 readers will get to experience winter in Michigan. Instead of pies, chicken soup will play an important part in the book. Some minor characters in Pies & Peril will return to take on more prominent roles. Of course, there will be lots of food and some interesting new characters to read about.

new Weekend Cooking logoThanks for stopping by, Janel!

Janel Gradowski is a participant of Weekend Cooking. Check out Beth Fish Reads for this week’s round-up of cooking posts.

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England on Five Dollars a Day #BriFri

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Lift a pint and join our link party!

We had a big party for British Isles Friday last week. Check out the book reviews, book lists, this post about Brick Lane, about both the novel of that title and the actual street in London, with photos.

When Tanya of 52 Books or Bust, a regular British Isles Friday participant, visited The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, she found the perfect postcard for me as I’m planning my trip to England. It’s made from the cover of an old guidebook. How old? I’m not sure, but a long time ago if five dollars a day was enough for a tourist. Today, that might buy you lunch. If you’re careful.

Travel Guidebooks to Great Britain, England, and London

Love the happy guy going to England on Five Dollars a Day

This would be a good day to describe the modern-day guidebooks that I’m using to plan my trip. I still like physical books for big confusing projects like planning a trip. Of course, I use the internet all the time as I’m making plans, but the guidebooks help me keep my thoughts organized.

The DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks are my favorite for armchair travel with their timelines, maps with photos of sites, and cut-away diagrams of museums and historic buildings. I own DK Eyewitness Travel books for places I’ve never been to! They are perfect for dreaming about places that I may yet travel to one day. My well-traveled copy of Paris was a companion at home and abroad for last year’s trip to France.

When I realized that London was going to be the biggest chunk of our trip, I decided I needed a guidebook just for London, so I went with my other favorite guidebook publisher, Rick Steves. The best thing about Rick Steves is that he thinks like an American abroad. Vital questions like How much cash do I need and how do I get more, if needed? are answered most fully in Rick Steves’ books. He’s also great for little tips like: speak quietly on the Tube because that’s what Londoners do.

The Rick Steves’ England is a library book. I’m glad that I didn’t buy it without looking at it first, since it doesn’t cover Birmingham, where we’re staying for 7 days.

My favorite thing of all, though, is to find things that aren’t in any of the guidebooks, like the Benjamin Franklin House. We might be the only American tourists at the Annual Steam Gala at the Crofton Beam Engines site, to watch the oldest steam engines in the world still performing the job they were built to do. Since it’s Steam Gala weekend, we’ll also get to see lots of other antique steam equipment, lovingly restored and displayed by their owners and brought out for events like this. That’s not the sort of thing that shows up in a guidebook, but it’s one of the things we’re looking forward to the most. I found it by browsing websites about steam engines in England.

What are your favorite resources for planning trips?

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Top Ten Brit Shows

We’ve been watching a lot of British TV shows and movies to prepare for our first trip to England. Here are some of my favorites.

Sherlock, Season 2, DVD set

Sherlock, a modern re-telling of the Sherlock Holmes stories

1. Sherlock. London is a practically a character in this modernized version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story.

2. Call the Midwife. The East End in the 1950s. The music is terrific, too!

3. Foyle’s War. My favorite show set in World War II. Is it weird that I want to be Sam Stewart?

4. Land Girls. To get my WWII fix after I watched all of Foyle’s War.

5. Downton Abbey. Duh.

6. Doctor Who. I’ve been a fan since college, and I’m loving the new ones.

7. Inspector Morse and Lewis and Endeavour. Detectives in Oxford.


St. Leonard’s at Shoreditch. Photo from Wikipedia article on Rev.

8. Rev. Rick found this one on Hulu Plus. Rev. is a comedy about a preacher in the inner-city of London. I got a kick out of learning about the church that plays the church on TV — St. Leonard’s in Shoreditch, one of the churches featured in the Oranges and Lemons rhyme (When I grow rich, ring the bells of Shoreditch) and a church with connections to Shakespeare. Check out the church website for some cool videos.

9. Love, Actually. A movie we watch every year at Christmas. This pretty much defines what I think of as modern England. Do you think I’ll be disappointed at the real thing? Especially since it won’t be Christmas time when we’re there?

10. Scrooge. The version of The Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim, which I’m afraid, is how I actually think about London. How much could it have changed in the last 170 years?

Top Ten TuesdayWhat do your recommend that I watch before our trip?

Besides the Top 10 Tuesday meme at Broke and Bookish, I’ll link this post to British Isles Friday this week.

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Project 365 #ReadersWorkouts

logo for Readers' WorkoutsWelcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

If nothing goes wrong this week, I’ll exercise for my 365th day in a row. I’m right on track to meet my July goal of 1400 minutes, too. So, my exercise is right on target.

How are you doing with your exercise right now?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.

Posted in Readers' Workouts | 4 Comments

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #IMWAYR

Paris in July 2014Happy Bastille Day! I’m celebrating with a guest post at Library Educated. Wesley is hosting All Lady July and she let me take over today to write about Karen Karbo’s Kick Ass Women series. Two of the women she wrote about, Coco Chanel and Julia Child, spent many years in Paris.

I’m looking forward to linking up, finally, to Paris in July. See the reading section, below, for another future Paris post.


Pies and Peril by Janel Gradowski

A fun cozy mystery with descriptions of amazing baked goods and other foods

I finished and reviewed Pies and Peril by Janel Gradowski — a fun post for Weekend Cooking!

I’m pretty much done with two travel guide books (does anyone ever really finish a travel guide book?). I expect to write about guide books to England on Friday for British Isles Friday.


London by Edward Rutherfurd

It’s 1597. My timeline on the wall starts in 1599 with Shakespeare’s Globe theater, so I’m about to get into a more familiar part of history.

I read some chapters of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson over the 4th of July weekend and wrote about Benjamin Franklin in London last week, including the ways we might follow in his footsteps. I’d like to read the Paris chapters, too, for a post for Paris in July. By the time I’ve read all that, I might just go ahead and finish the book!

I am still reading London by Edward Rutherfurd — I’m up to 1597, and that means Shakespeare!

We have book club this week, so I’m reading our July selection: Some of My Best Friends are Black by Tanner Colby. As you can tell from the title, there’s some humor. That, and the anecdotes make it very readable. I’m learning a lot about segregation and integration, surprised by how well we managed the former and how badly we managed the latter and how much both outcomes are related to the potential for profit. We should have a great discussion!

Will Read

I haven’t got a book on my phone right now that I’m reading. I need to correct that. I think it’s time to get back to Gail Carriger. I finished Blameless, so it’s time for Heartless.

What are you reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Meme Graphic

It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Be sure to check out her post today to see her selections and the list of links to all the other participating bloggers.

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Zinnias and Tomatoes #GardenUpdate #SaturdaySnapshots

Time for another garden update.

I posted a photo of blueberry flowers in April, so here are the blueberries.


Blueberries. I’ve never had this many before — because the birds always ate them! You can see the netting on the edges of the photo.


This little guy is destined to be my first ripe tomato!


The zinnias are blooming!

Yesterday, I posted about the cress in my garden, so check that out, too!

Saturday Snapshots logoSaturday Snapshots are hosted each week by Melinda of West Metro Mommy Reads. Check out her post this weekend for lots of great photos around the web.

Posted in Saturday Snapshot | 15 Comments