Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Chicken of Time: Gillian Philip


It all started with Charlie Brooker. As someone who was frittering away much of his time on Facebook and Twitter (there are many of us - mea maxima culpa) he needed something to focus his attention on the paying job in hand. If you haven't read it already, his article on the Pomodoro Technique (the solution he discovered) is almost painfully sharp and funny. As he put it, "I was trying to write a script in a small room with nothing but a laptop for company. Perfect conditions for quiet contemplation - but thanks to the accompanying net connection, I may as well have been sharing the space with a 200-piece marching band."
Ouch. The article, Google Instant is Trying to Kill Me, was all over the writery part of Facebook in the time it takes to get up for another cup of coffee and idly check Twitter.
I already know people who are trying it out, and swearing by it. Kathryn Evans, fellow children's writer, has not vanished from the online world - not at all - in fact, she's posting just as often. But she's only visiting the gossipy virtual water cooler every twenty-five minutes, when her chicken timer tells her she may. For five minutes. And then it clucks again.
She's getting a lot of work done.
I don't think Twitter and Facebook are a waste of time. They're sanity-saving, they're mines of research and news and ideas, they're wonderful places to meet and talk about work, and they're places where I've met some of my very best friends.
None of which stops them being vampires of work-time. I'm going out today. I may be some time, but I'll have more of it when I get back. I'm going to hunt for my very own chicken.

http://www.gillianphilip.com/

13 comments:

karen ball said...

Only very recently, I've started giving myself 30 minute slots in which to solidly write. I believe Anne Cassidy does this. And there was a recent article from Charlie Brooker on this very subject:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/13/charlie-brooker-google-instant

Nicky S (Absolute Vanilla) said...

I love this idea! But I want a sheep of time...

M Louise Kelly said...

Yup, this trick has saved my bacon. Currently using an online exploding bomb timer but am looking for just the right non-virtual one!
And I too use some of my 5 mins breaks to look at twitter etc. It's turned it into a treat.

Better get back to work - my timer awaits!

Keren David said...

Works for me...although sometimes I need the full Jonathan Franzen - no internet, hired (borrowed) office, headphones to block out noise, games disabled on computer.

Nicky said...

It is a good idea - I just tried it with my mac tea timer.

Katherine Roberts said...

I SO need one of those chickens...
But I once went on a time management course, so you'd think I would know better.

We had a filofax-style notebook that was divided up into half hour slots, and you had to draw little pictures in them to remember to do things like buy your wife flowers (I was one of few females on this course, obviously...) The technique for completing longer tasks involved a gruesome image of cutting up an elephant and eating it bite by bite... similar idea?

Trouble is when writing first drafts, I find my slots need to be longer than half an hour - four hour chunks seem to work for me, followed by half an hour "off" to leave comments like this online!

kathryn evans said...

I have the lovely Jackie Morris to thank - she took pity on my pathetic lack of discipline and sent me her very own chicken. Jackie has graduated to an hour glass - befitting for one who produces things of dazzling beauty. http://www.drawingalineintime.blogspot.com/

Jackie Morris said...

It's a slippery slope of time control. That's why I love the hour glass. The sand slips silent through glass. And there are many layers of poetry tied up in the glass, also made from sand, and drawing lines in time with pencils, with sand, as more time slips through my fingers like sand slips through the glass.
Love it. But I do find that it helps me focus when I have too too many things to do and stops me being like a lost rabbit in the middle of the road.
Now, where did I put my Time Chicken. I want 15 minutes reading before I get back to painting a cheetah.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Love the hour glass idea- only trouble is will have to spend time searching for one on the internet. Still as the Sand Dancers know, for it is written in the Sands of Time , 'Time passes, sands shift and secrets are revealed'

Miriam Halahmy said...

I recommend thirty minutes in my writing workshops and people often find it kickstarts them again. If you do your 30 minutes you can get up knowing you've done you're writing.

Nicola Morgan said...

Hooray - another thing to stop me working! I have to go and INVESTIGATE the pomodoro technique now, and maybe experiment with some alternatives, and then TELL everyone about it, and write a blog post on it - oh, you just did that - and think about it and find it works for a day and then find it doesn't the next day because I've forgotten to set the timer so I have to look for another technique to make me remember to set timers...arghhhhhhh *gibbers a lot*

Sue Hyams said...

This is brilliant! I'm off to find the Wolf of Time! I did laugh at Charlie's Brooker's vision of Google Assault - won't be long....

Lucy Coats said...

I want a wolf of time too! Just catching up on ABBA here--love this post, Gillian, and shall inevitably be trying this method.