It’s been quite a week! It started off with my getting an injection in my shoulder at an urgent care orthopedic clinic and learning about pomodoros in the parking lot. Yesterday, I joined the tomato process team. Well, that’s not its real name, but we call it “tomato time baby”. What’s not to love about tomatoes? My promotion comes with perks! <laughter> We’ll talk tomatoes in a bit.
I was on a Teams call yesterday and a coworker had never heard the phrase, “work hard, play harder”. I told him that it was my motto. It really is! I try not to waste any of my time off — I try to do something outdoors every weekend or holiday that I’m off. Be it cycling, hiking or kayaking. Recently, I bought a used crossover kayak because I really want to get into a little whitewater kayaking, so that I can play harder. Even though my shoulder has been hurting for months and keeping me from sleeping for at least the last two months, I continued to play hard. The way I look at it? I’m 53 and I’m blessed that the only thing that hurts is my shoulder. I mean, occasionally I have other aches and pains, but I am blessed. I want to do things while my parts can still move! Next week, my knee could go out, so I’ve gotta LIVE every moment that I am able. I also have goals. I want to be able to bend over to tie my shoes when I’m 80. To achieve that goal, I’ve gotta keep moving!
We have SO many distractions in the world today. Phones with alerts, computers with alerts, watches with alerts and even our TVs alert us of this that and severe weather approaching. Even my bike helmet alerts Marty if I have a bad fall and don’t get to my phone in time. We live in a very connected world. How many times a day do you check for alerts on one of your electronic devices? I’ve never counted, but I check a lot.
We are always connected to work via these notifications, too. I’ll be driving down the road and up on the car screen pops, “Teams Notification”, “Outlook Notification” and a million other alerts. I’ve turned off most of my alerts forever-meaning, I have to go to the app or program to see what’s up. From the hours of 8:00 PM to 4:30 AM, my phone is set on “do not disturb”. This doesn’t mean I won’t see a text or email when I get up at 2:45 AM on one of my early work days…….. It just means I won’t have bright lights or sound! Where am I going with this? You’ll see soon enough.
Back to my new to me boat. It was my third time out on the water with my XP9. I went from the QE2 of kayaks to one that turns on a dime and takes some getting used to without the skeg down. I’ve got a LONG way to go before I get on any whitewater and I need to buy a helmet, too. <smile> I was on the Uwharrie River Saturday– the same section I paddled with the same boat the Saturday before. I take lots of pictures on my adventures and this particular day was no exception. I had some really great pictures on my phone. I paddled through a small rapid, then waited for the rest of our Crossed Paddles Crew to catch up. I took a few pictures of the little rapid– it was pretty. I had forgotten that my skeg was down as I put my phone away in my PFD’s pocket. I didn’t get it zipped all the way before my boat turned sideways. Since the skeg was down, the moving water flipped my boat and there I was, upside down with my boat on top. Thankfully, the skirt came off easily and I was able to exit the boat safely. I swam up a wee bit to get my paddle, then back to my boat. I got to a place where the water wasn’t moving very fast and I was able to stand. I dumped the water out of my boat (after handing my paddle to another paddler). Marty held my boat while I hopped back in.
I knew the moment I came up that my phone was gone, but didn’t look for it. I knew I needed to get my paddle and get back in my boat. It was 53° outside, the water was cold and I only had a splash top on top of all my Smartwool base layers. We still had several miles to the take out, but I stayed warm and never shivered until I got out and to my Jeep to change! Wool is the only fabric that insulates when wet. The science behind wool is that wool actually generates heat when it is wet and drying. It is a hygroscopic insulator. Oh, and it is also fire resistant. What’s not to love about wool? < a few links about the science of wool> I learned all I needed to about wool when I was stationed at Ft. Dix in the middle of the winter.
I digressed a bit. So, I lost my phone in the river, but I stayed warm. My friends were worried that I was cold. I had to explain that I had wool base layers on–including my panties. Hey, a girl has to prepare for going in the water. If you kayak long enough, it will happen. A few friends couldn’t believe that I wasn’t upset about my phone being lost. Nope. It’s a risk I’ve taken hundreds of times on my adventures. I go into hiking, cycling and paddling knowing that there’s a risk something could happen to me or anything I bring along. This is the first phone I’ve lost in over 20 years. I bought my first cell phone after my middle son stopped breathing and his doctor told me that I needed to get a cell phone! Not bad for all the years and adventures! If I lost a cell phone more frequently, I might have been more concerned. I’ll be back out there snapping photos soon!
Somewhere just after 1:00 PM all of my notifications were silenced. By the river. While loading the Jeep that morning, I had a work call that lasted until we were 30 minutes into the drive. Then came another call, followed by a few texts and another few work calls— someone needed help. By the time I got off the water, got to the cell phone store, purchased a new phone and set it up, 6 hours had passed. The quietest 6 hours of my work career. As soon as I drove in the driveway, my watch connected to the wifi, and the texts rolled in. Work. Ping, ping, ping. It was then that I realized how nice it was to be disconnected for 6 hours.
Which brings me to Tomato Time, Baby. I have been feeling overwhelmed with all of the things I need to learn for my new position. It’s a lot! I never post details about my employer on social media, but I’ll give you a vague idea about my new position without giving anything away. I am still a division manager, but am now an area manager (4 divisions including my own) and will become senior client manager for five of our company’s clients. Yeah, it’s a lot to learn! Thankfully, I work for a great company and have an AMAZING mentor who is as type A as am I! <laughter>
Last week, our CEO met with the three new area managers. Afterward, he sent a slew of links and articles for us to read. As I am still transitioning to my new position and out in the field (40 hrs last week), I was a bit overwhelmed with working in the field, all of the extra meetings and phone conversations, along with the extra work. The goal is to be at my home office 3 days a week and in the field 2 days a week. I’m getting there. I have delegated and am training two new people in my home division. In the end, it will work out. Summary: I have a long list of tasks on my to do list as well as a long list of “to learn” items. A few of which are to join a couple of process teams at work. Which is where the tomato comes in.
I received an email from a coworker about having a TTB on TTBs (the real name is pomodoro, which is Italian for “tomato”). I read the email in the parking lot of the orthopedic urgent care. I immediately set up pomodoro’s on my weekly calendar! Then I emailed to say I was interested in discussing this further. After the meeting, I let him know that I would be interested in this process team. This is truly life-changing stuff here. Y’all, I cannot emphasize how it changed my week and my outlook enough!
Flashback to college where I set up a study on the effects of background sounds on reading comprehension. The ability to focus and get things done has always interested me. I’m a type A personality. I’m a list maker. I use paper and pen. I know some folks use their computers and phones for everything, and while I do have lists on my phone and computer, I like paper. I take notes with paper. Research studies have shown that some people retain more when they write out noes by hand. There is a connection to the brain through the physical writing process.
So, this life-changing tomato thing. WHY had I not thought to do this on my own? I’ll never know the answer to that, but going forward, I foresee a lot of tomato time in my future. As we have been saying at work, “Respect the Tomato!” Pomodoros are blocks of time that you spend on focused work. Twenty-five minute blocks of time to be specific. You turn off all notifications on your phone and computer and watch and pager (do they still make those?). You spend 25 minutes of uninterrupted time working on a task, then you take a 5 minute break. After 4 pomodoros, you take a longer break. The possibilities are endless! After reading many articles about focus and work flow, I decided that I would spend at least 3 of my exercise sessions a week disconnected from notifications. I chose 3 because sometimes while I’m on my NordicTrack bike or treadmill, I order groceries or things off of Amazon. Modern technology.
In an area manager meeting, I also got some great ideas on how to use pomodoros. Some people use a pomodoro at the beginning of the week to get ready for the upcoming week and to get things in order. Awesome idea. Before I discussed TTBs with anyone, I took all the overwhelming tasks I was given and I broke out 30 minute time blocks on my calendar to work on these items. Twenty-five minutes at a time. By yesterday, I was almost caught up! Some of the videos and educational talks were an hour and a half to two hours long. Breaking it down into bite size pieces eased my anxiety and allowed me to get it done.
Being a type A personality, I set aside a 30 min time block today (Friday) to get next week set up. Why wait until Monday when the workweek is already underway? <laughter> I ordered a silent mechanical timer so that next week, I can leave my phone in the other room instead of using it as a timer for my pomodoros. It was too tempting this week. Even silenced, the pop up alerts caught my eye and my mind wandered from the task at hand. I learned from my mentor that the tomato shaped timers were too loud. Click, click, click….and that would drive me insane. I read about a silent mechanical timer on a blog about pomodoros and ended up choosing this one here.
For a succinct summary of what pomodoros are, read this article A Daily Time Management Technique for a Happier You. You’ll be glad you checked it out!
Work hard, play harder and always respect the tomato!