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Maximise joy – Mary Mahan-Deathrage

Living in the moment is hard. Keeping my mind on the task at hand sometimes takes superpower strength. As a freelancer, I’m often deep in a specific task, for example, writing a lively client article, when suddenly, in mid-sentence, I have an urge to add ‘avocados’ to my grocery list.

What’s up with that?

My go-to prayer at times like these is asking God for concentration while reading and re-reading Colossians 3:23-24 

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Our work is God’s work. Whether you’re raising babies or building a bright new career, creating beautiful art, or climbing the corporate ladder, all tasks lead to His glory. But I admit I create reasons to pause during my workday to check out the latest Instagram posts, TikTok fun, or browse my playlists for a new favorite song – all in the name of market research. But when I’m locked in and determined to get a job done, those random mind twinges are a sure way to sidetrack my progress.

Maximise joy with the Pomodoro technique

If you’re like me, you’ve searched for ways to curb your mental wanderings long enough to accomplish work and home responsibilities. I’ve found a great solution to ward off those pesky mind pangs. It’s The Pomodoro Technique. Sounds daunting, I know, but it has worked well for me and might be useful for you too. It’s a simple time management practice that helps maximize focus and creative freshness so I can finish that client article or mountain of laundry.

The process is simple and works great for those days when I’ve put off important tasks – work or personal – and I’m experiencing a bit of overwhelm.

For big work projects, I budget my time into short increments, taking breaks periodically. I work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. During that break I try not to wander to the kitchen for a snack, but hey it’s your time – have fun!

Each 25-minute work period is called a ‘pomodoro,’ named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo, the creator of this method, used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his tool, and Voila! The name stuck.

After four pomodoro work sessions have passed (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of short breaks), I then take a longer break of 20-30 minutes. Give yourself a small reward. I take a walk, read a chapter in a fun book or yes, watch one short Netflix episode.

Using your phone, a notebook or calendar page, mark that pomodoro with an ‘X.’ Note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears for each 25-minute chunk of time. This helps you recognize your attention length and work to build up your endurance, much like a runner training for a 5k race.

The point is that these frequent breaks keep your mind engaged and the shorter chunks of work time feel more do-able than spending a stretch of endless hours. If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by motivating you to adhere to specific timing. Spreading a big chore over two or three pomodoro sessions can keep you from getting frustrated and hitting your Netflix app. Minimizing procrastination plus increasing relaxation and fun is a goal for every new year, isn’t it?

After trying this method for a week or two you’ll be in a great rhythm and will notice your free time is longer and more enjoyable and your stress has diminished.

My goal in the new year is to spend time with the people I love and enjoy my free time without stressing over my undone work tasks (said, me, the procrastinator Queen!). Maybe the Pomodoro Technique is one resolution to maximize your joy in the coming year, too.

The Pomodoro Technique link is I’m not in any way associated with this company.

Mary Mahan-deatherage

Mary Mahan-Deatherage is a freelance writer, brand designer and strategic planner.

MMD Creative is her flagship company specializing in branding and strategic planning for small businesses. She owns Spoken Women, a creative community bringing the Catholic perspective to the world through bold writing, podcasts, and art. Her blog, Divine, Clever, or Whatever is a Christ-driven endeavor to lighten your soul through her uplifting stories. Mary is a mom of two and Mimi to a pair of rambunctious grandsons. She and her husband, Greg, are enjoying their vibrant, amusing, busy empty-nester life in Dixon, Illinois in the 127-year-old Craftsman home where she grew up.,, 

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