Finding the willpower and motivation to get on with the task in hand when you're at your computer, rather than getting distracted by Youtube cats and online games, can be difficult. There are many techniques that claim to help you stay focused and organized, such as the well-known GTD (Get Things Done) methodology. However, it can be complicated to learn, and you risk spending as much time managing your progress as actually completing the job you're supposed to be doing.
Another respected concept is known as the Pomodoro Technique, which got its name because of the tomato-shaped clockwork kitchen timer that its inventor first used. The technique itself is incredibly simple. Set a timer for 25 minutes, during which you work on the task you need to concetrate on. When the time's up, put away your work immediately and take a break for 5 minutes or so. Then, start the process again.
If you want to try it and you don't have a clockwork tomato to hand, the web is full of downloadable and online pomodoro timers. Trouble is, most of them are too intrusive to be useful, or require add-on technologies such as Adobe Air or Java. So I spent some time recently, just for you, looking for a good one with which to get started.
The result is the Pomodoro Taskbar program, which runs under all recent versions of Windows. It's free, clear of malware according to VirusTotal, and less than 1 MB to download. It's portable too, so there's no installation routine required.
Run it, change the settings if you like, and the icon (a tomato and a regularly-updated count of the time remaining) appears in your taskbar. Start work, and carry on until the timer pops up to say that it's finished. Or move your mouse to the taskbar at any time to see how long is left. It's simple, and it works.
To download a copy, go to: http://pomodorotaskbar.codeplex.com/
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