Surf's up -
Could a simple tomato help you regain focus in your work, spur productivity and help you clear outstanding tasks from your to-do list? According to people who believe in what's called the Pomodoro Technique, the answer is an unqualified yes.
The first thing to realize, though, is that this is not your garden-variety tomato.
In a nutshell, the Pomodoro Technique is about time management. Creator Francesco Cirillo developed it years ago, although it seems to be gaining ground more recently online, with discussion groups and fan pages sprouting all over. And, yes, plenty of software choices are already available.
Here's how it works: you take a kitchen clock - the technique is called Pomodoro, because of the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used - and set it for 25 minutes. During that time, you work with purpose on a set task. When the alarm sounds, you can do what you want for five minutes. Then, you do it all over again. When you've done a few "pomodoros," you've earned a longer break.
Adherents swear by it, particularly as the web and our gadgets supply us with an ever-increasing list of possible distractions. At the official site, you'll find the technique is as much a product as a way of living, or at least working.
Google Timer Group
Curiously, many people who work online have become infatuated with the Pomodoro idea. This is a popular Google Groups forum devoted to developing and promoting software connected to the Pomodoro universe. I would have thought things would be straightforward - an online timer, and that's about it, right? - but plenty of people are working on some pretty sophisticated applications, such as the involvement of real-time networking for large groups of people.
You don't have to have huge, complicated ideas to benefit from the technique. This application is really simple: you set an alarm (like, for 25, or 45, or however many minutes from now), and an annoying buzzer goes off. It's great for micronaps, by the way.
Elsewhere this week
At Cupids Cove
Here's a link where time is definitely an issue. Last Sunday, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a documentary on John Guy and the settling of Cupids, tied to this year's 400th anniversary celebrations. It's a good piece, and you can listen to it here, but (because of the BBC's limitations on playback) for just another three days.
Amelia Curran Live
Last month, CBC Radio 2 broadcast a full concert of singer-songwriter Amelia Curran playing in St. John's. It was a lovely show, and you can hear it whenever you want, courtesy of the Concerts On Demand feature. You can also sign up for the podcast, and keep the downloaded show (plus many others) for as long as you like. I'd recommend the podcast option, as it's a terrific way to get live, high-quality music from top-shelf artists.
Curran's own site offers some background information, although fans and prospective fans will find more to sample at her MySpace page; look for the link among the resources here.
When the blog designboom (no capital letters, please; they're too cool for appropriate punctuation!) launches a competition, hundreds if not thousands get in on the action. This one asked participants to imagine "solutions" to parking crunches in urban areas; some of the results are out there, and a few are hilarious.
Bureau of Made Up Statistics
Need a fact that need not be true? Here's your place for one-stop citations, true or false (but almost always false). It's a hoot.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: @johngushue