I, for one, welcome our nightshade overlord

Earlier in the week I enthused about Shut Up and Write. Today, here’s a little bit more about how our group works.

At QUT Shut Up and Write, we follow the Pomodoro Technique. That little tomato rules our meetings. We work in 25 minute sessions with a 5 minute break between (more like 10 if our between-session chat gets interesting) and then work for a further 25 minutes.

A flat white, in a white cup. Next to the flat white is a large plastic tomato.

Shut Up and Write Brisbane’s Mascot. And a tomato.

The 25 minute session time seems about right. When we first started doing Shut Up and Write we’d work for an hour, which is a long time to sit silently and type. Following the Pomodoro Technique has a few of advantages.

First, a 25 minute session isn’t too intimidating. It’s not even half an hour. On days when I’m pressed for time I can still fit one 25 minute session in at Shut Up and Write.

Second, the 5 minute break is a good time for a stretch or to ask a question of the group. Our group is composed of QUT staff and we are all at different stages of our research and teaching careers so the group also functions as an informal peer advice network.

Third, a 25 minute session of one thing is likely more than twice as long as you’d be able to achieve in your office.

Each employee spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do something else. What’s more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading a Web page or working on a spreadsheet. (Clive Thompson for The NYT describing Professor Gloria Mark‘s research.)

Finally, the 25 minute session is short enough that after the first one I’ve still got some water in the well and I feel a compulsion to get another 25 minutes of writing in to get the ideas out.

If two sets (or sometimes more!) of 25 minutes of writing in silence sounds like something that could be useful to you, get in touch with me (@bjkraal) or my colleague Lindy Osborne, find the group on Facebook find the group on Facebook or come along to QUT Kelvin Grove Theatre Cafe on Mondays at 3pm or Artisans on the Yard at QUT Gardens Point on Tuesdays at 3pm or Fridays at 10am.

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One thought on “I, for one, welcome our nightshade overlord

  1. Pingback: Writing the (dreaded) academic bio | Not Easily Obvious

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