June 01, 2023

Through the Lens - Issue 26

Through the lens for amirisu by Masako Nakagawa


Through the lens for amirisu by Masako Nakagawa


Tomatoes have brought a big change to my life. While I do love eating tomatoes, in this case I’m referring to a technique for honing my concentration.

What can I do during the day to feel a sense of achievement by the time I go to sleep at night? How can I make the most of the limited time I have, make the most of my life? I’ve been preoccupied with these ideas that so many of us obsess over. I have been working for over a quarter of a century, yet when I look back on any given day, I see I’ve wasted so much time.

An acquaintance of mine, busy with graduate studies in the US introduced the Pomodoro Technique on their social media. The technique, which means "tomato" in Italian, is quite simple: concentrate for 25 minutes and rest for 5 minutes. Repeat for four sets. After that, take a longer rest. If necessary, do another 4 sets. That's it. It struck me as something I could manage, so I decided to give it a try. 

The act of setting a timer and concentrating on one task reminds me of taking exams as a student. It was a long time since I'd worked on something by dividing my time like this. While working, I’d glance at the timer and see that only 8 minutes had elapsed. But what a productive 8 minutes! Amazed at the quality and quantity of what I had accomplished in such a short time, I returned to the sea of concentration. The timer beeped and 25 minutes was up already. I could keep going, but it is key to take a proper five-minute break here. I step away from my computer to make a leisurely cup of tea and five minutes is over in the blink of an eye. The timer calls me back and a new 25 minutes begins.

After completing four sets, I’ve crossed more off my to-do list than I’d thought possible, and surprised to have made so much progress. I can almost see four imaginary tomatoes, ripe and glossy, rolling around my desk.

I remember how I used to get sidetracked before I started blocking out my time. Time passed ruthlessly when I indulged in these fruitless impulses. Then, when evening came, I’d have a feeling of futility and no sense of accomplishment.

Now I schedule some of this lazy time for myself: after four sets, I close my laptop and watch an episode of a TV drama. I make a nice cup of coffee and put out some of my favorite chocolates. The experience of intentionally indulging myself during this prepared time is exceptional. I enjoy my leisure time without any guilt, proud to have completed four full sets of tasks. It’s a great feeling.

I’m sure that amirisu readers are clever about squeezing knitting into their spare time, but if you are interested in increasing your productivity at work or at home to free up more time for knitting, I highly recommend giving the Pomodoro Technique a try.

                  Masako Nakagawa