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How to Tame Your Subconscious

shutterstock_2984081 What you train your subconscious to do without meaning to can bite you.

I think these two problems are things that will work themselves out, as I continue training myself to the “get things out of your head and onto a “planning system” method of Getting Things Done.

I don’t know if pairing the Pomodoro technique with Getting Things Done is logical or even needed for most people, but for me the Pomodoro method is helping circumvent very bad habits I acquired when I was the mother of two small children and trying to write novels. It might be physically impossible to mind to small and rambunctious boys and write a novel without ending up with your day chopped up into five minute increments.

When I first went to a workshop back in 1999, I found that I was having the hardest trouble sitting down and completing my assignments at my chair for more than five minutes at a time. It took me a while to figure out that my back-brain was scanning for the sudden halt in noise that is the sign the children are up to something very bad indeed. As the silence continued and continued, my brain would start giving me alarms that “you should go check now.”

The fact that I was hundreds of miles away and my children were being looked after by their father who’d taken the week off for the purpose, did no good at all. My trained subconscious knew that there was something very wrong with all that silence.

The problem is that once you ingrain and train that sort of rhythm, it’s almost impossible to snap out of it. As the boys grew up and went to school, my subconscious found other ways of interrupting the work so that the “normal” – by then – work flow was maintained.

Usually it’s whatever was causing me most anxiety at the time, which right now seems to be a very odd – not to say depressing – mix of household chores and national/political news.

This usually means that I work for five minutes or so, until my internal panic tells me I’m supposed to be doing something. Then I get up and do dishes, or put a load of laundry in, or – more often – check Instapundit to make sure the world hasn’t imploded yet. (It’s one of the most reliable services Instapundit provides. You scan the headlines and you go “okay, the world is still there.”)