Monday November 18, 2019
A few months ago, I made the decision to start my own blog.
Why? Honestly, it’s one of the items on my bucket list. I guess I’m just like a lot of people. Dreaming of making it big online.
After writing on my blog for a few weeks, I realized that writing good articles were much more time consuming than I imagined.
In the blogosphere, successful articles are long. Very long. Typically over 2000 words. That’s especially true for small sites. Big sites can rely on their existing audience and have popular 500-word articles. But small bloggers need to prove themselves with long content.
English is my second language, I was writing at about 400 words per hour. Given my typical post was around 2000 words, each post required approximately a week to research, write and upload.
1 article per week… I had to find a solution.
Golfing can be an intense activity
When I first decided to get into blogging, I created 2 sites.
My first idea was to create a site that would teach people how to learn French. I actually did not continue writing on this blog, because I had a better idea for another site.
The second blog I started was about golf equipment. I thought this was a better idea because I could write about golf equipment and make commissions via affiliate programs.
The burnout happened as I was writing an article on the best golf irons for beginners. I did tons of research, as well as some graphic design. It took me more than a week to get it done.
It was too much. I was working a day job, and writing on the side. My progress was slow, and my blog wasn’t taking off…
So I started looking into ways to boost my productivity. I then stumbled upon a technique called “Pomodoro”.
This time management technique has been getting some traction during the past few years. Simply put, it consists in organizing your working time in chunks (typically 25 minutes) followed by short breaks (about 5 minutes).
The was the Pomodoro technique is marketed made me suspicious. But what if it was real? What if I could actually get more done, in less time?
I had to find out for myself...
The productivity experiment
If there is one thing that I learned from my graduate courses in computer science, it’s that engineers are obsessed with numbers.Scientists need a way to measure the outcome of their experiments.
After reading about the Pomodoro method, I decided I had to test it for myself. So I decided to set up an experiment, and use the number of words written as a measure of progress.
In order to accurately measure the efficacy of the Pomodoro technique, I set up an experiment using the following protocol:
- The experiment would be conducted over the course of 2 weeks.
- I would write 4 days per week, 2 hours each day.
- The first week would serve as a “control” week. I would simply write without using the Pomodoro method.
- The second week was the “test” week. I would use the Pomodoro technique.
- I would research all the information I needed for the articles before the experiment. This would allow me to focus 100% on writing during the 2 weeks.
At the end of the 2 weeks, I counted and compared the number of words written during each week.
And the results were surprising to say the least...
At the end of the 2 weeks
I am a skeptical person. Honestly, I didn’t believe the Pomodoro method would be effective. Maybe it could help me write a few more words, but I doubted its efficacy.
But this little experiment forced me to reconsider things…
After the 2 weeks, I counted and compared the number of words written during each week. The following table summarizes my findings.
Week 1 (no Pomodoro)
Week 2 (with Pomodoro)
8 hours (including breaks)
Number of words
That’s right. 4536 words during the first week, and 7240 words during the second week. In other words:
- 4536/8 = 567 words per hour during the first week.
- 7240/8 = 905 words per hour during the second week.
That’s a 60% increase.
I also observed that I had enjoyed my time writing a lot more using the Pomodoro technique. After doing some research in Google scholar, I found that another study reported a similar finding when used with software developers.
The final word
Does the Pomodoro technique actually work?
Yes, there is no doubt about it.
Let’s be clear. I am not saying that everyone will see a 60% increase in productivity. That’s just my own experience over the course of 2 weeks.
I’d be curious to see how to Pomodoro technique performs when used over the course of several months.
That’s going to be a long experiment...
Check out Lois, who is a golfer who writes about golf clubs on his blog. He meditates daily to perfect his swing.