A Nifty–And Free–Tool


My first attempt to do a screenshot!  It’s a bit blurry, but I think you get the picture.  (In a manner of speaking.)  This view is of the homepage of the website called “TomatoTimer.com,” which is an online timer that incorporates the principle of something called “the Pomodoro Technique.”  Again, as with so many great ideas and websites, I have no idea how I got onto this.  I have a vague memory of its being mentioned in a YouTube video.  Anyway, there’s a whole cottage industry (books, an actual little tomato-shaped timer, etc.) around the very simple idea of working for 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, then working another 25 minutes, and so on.  During your 25-minute “pomodoro” you can’t check your e-mail, or answer your phone, or attend to any other distractions.  You must work for the whole time.  So I was thinking that I could just set the timer on my phone, but that would mean that I’d have to actually have my phone with me.  Those of you who know me well will recognize how unlikely that scenario is.  Somehow I landed on this website, a thoroughly handy way to use this time-management tool while I’m working on my computer.  No need to buy a timer or locate my phone.  (Hope they don’t get sued for copyright infringement.)  I’ve caught myself several times over the past few days starting to click on a tab to go somewhere else when I’m supposed to be working and then saying, ‘No, I have to finish my pomodoro.’  It’s kind of fun.  Try it and see.

At the same time, I’m saying farewell to another tool, this time far from free:  Scrivener.  I discussed that writing software in this post.  I was all of a doo-dah over it and thus paid FIFTY DOLLARS for it ($40 for the software itself, plus an extra $10 for a manual written in readable English–the need for such a thing as an extra manual should have warned me.  Gideon said it was pretty cheap, but he’s used to seeing prices for 3-D animation software.)  I said in the post that filling out the little virtual notecards was kind of fun, and it was, but then I couldn’t figure out how to proceed.  I neglected that writing for several weeks, and when I went back to it I simply didn’t know what to do.  The screen didn’t look the way I expected it to, but nothing I did seemed to make it go back to the way I wanted it.  I had gone ahead and bought it in the first place because Gretchen Rubin had been so complimentary about it in Better than BeforeYou could use it for free for about a month, so at least I did do that.  It was pretty intimidating, but I kept trying, and by the end of the trial period I had invested quite a bit of time, plus I had all those blasted notecards filled out that I didn’t want to transfer somewhere else.  Every online review of this product raved about it, and the only other product I could find was something called “SuperNotecard,” which seemed much more in my league but was still confusing.  So I bought Scrivener.  And now I’ve given up.  Jim is helping me understand how to use SuperNotecard, and it has turned out to be much more what I need:  simply a way to organize my ideas under chapter headings.  I probably would have been better off just using real notecards.  And SNC costs $25 per year.  So I’ve now spent $75 so far for writing software.  Mr. Money Mustache would be appalled.  I’m hoping that I can sell my copy of Scrivener to someone.  Can you do that?  I guess you can.  Hey, maybe I can craigslist it!

I think these experiences illustrate the principle that no tool does the job for you.  Kind of an expensive lesson to learn, and one that I should have known already.  But there it is.  I’ve transferred all of my ideas from my virtual Scrivener notecards to my virtual SuperNotecard notecards.  Maybe now I can actually start making some progress on this new book.  It’s always easier to look for new toys than it is to just do the work!


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