Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash

I’ve Done 8,500+ Pomodoros. Here’s My Secret to Unwavering Discipline.

Find your north star and head towards it every day.

What’s your north star? It’s your mission. It’s why you do what you do. It’s the thing that gets you fired up to keep going.

Since January of 2019, I’ve been using the Pomodoro Technique to track my accomplishments and measure my progress. Since then I’ve done over 8,500 pomodoros and every time I completed a work session, I put a checkmark in my tracking box.

The weird thing is I never considered myself a tracking kind of guy. There’s nothing you really do with the data. At least that’s what I thought.

Then I began to realize each mark was a tangible representation of a step I’ve taken in my journey, or a time brick that I laid while building my body of work.

Most people use the Pomodoro Technique to check a to-do item off their list. Today I’m talking about something bigger, more long term.

It’s something you really really want, more than anything.

What I Mean When I Say Mission

The dictionary’s definition of mission is: “an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.”

The word mission implies zeal, sacrifice and significant effort.

You complete a mission or die trying. Failure isn’t an option.

Your mission is your north star.

For the youngsters out there, before GPS, travelers used the north star to navigate to their destination. But even though you were guided by it, you never reached it.

This implies missions aren’t destinations. They’re guiding lights for your life’s journey.

For instance, my mission is to be the best writer I can be. So even though I will never be the best writer, I can keep making course adjustments and traveling in that general direction. How?

By building my audience, making a living writing, learning to write faster, and write so well my readers can’t put me down.

I think it’s important that missions aren’t about survival. They’re about aspiration, something Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs calls “self-actualization.” It’s critical to your spiritual well being and inspires you.

Good thing your mission feeds your soul and energizes you, because you’ll need it when times are dark.

Alan Moore, one of my favorite authors, says “maybe you are a mythical being on a mythical journey.”

This explains why is life feels so hard and this journey is so tough right now.

I’m on a mission (The Hero’s Journey), and I’m in the Dark Night of the Soul. These trials and tribulations are part of the path to finding a boon I will one day be able to share with the community, to make their lives better.

Your Mission Will Compel You On a Course of Action

If you don’t have a long term mission, you probably won’t stick with the Pomodoro technique. You won’t have the conviction to keep up the discipline and will go back back to working like you always did. Why not? It’s easy and familiar. I’ve seen it with 99% of the people I know. They get excited at first, then they stop grinding.

My life goal has always been to move people, and change their lives for the better.

Since every creative project begins with writing, and storytelling is an essential life skill for teachers, I felt that writing was the single most strategic thing I could do to help myself and others.

When I committed to a regular writing discipline, I decided to upgrade the Pomodoro Technique. It’s great for checking shit off the todo list but it doesn’t address your life mission. It tells you how to get stuff done, but doesn’t help you with the “why you do it.”

My first major system enhancement was putting my timer on an altar, to focus my energies and intentions. This altar had symbolic objects to inspire me, one of which was a wish fulfilling pentagram, called a Tetragrammaton. Then I made my wish.

I wished to become a really good writer.

The wish was reasonable. It was also achievable. I knew I could do it, and that every twist of the timer would take me a step closer to achieving that goal. I would put one word in front of the other and become a better writer, one pomodoro at a time.

Then I wrote a magic spell I try to cast every time I twist my timer:

“As I wind, so I bind, now distractions leave my mind.”

Saying this phrase focuses my will, which is one of Alan Moore’s “Four Weapons of the Writer”. Stating my intention reminds my subconscious “I want to do just one thing without interruption and distraction.”

If I don’t say the phrase with attention, and intention, then I tend to drift away from the task at hand. So it seems to work.

Your Mission Is Not A Wishful Thinking

Your mission shouldn’t be “I want to make a million dollars writing a best-selling novel so I can buy my own private island.”

That’s wishful thinking.

Think more along the lines of “I want to be the best ______ I can be.” Then everything will follow.

You Won’t Commit Until You Realize How Valuable Structure Is

A few years back I realized I was spending my precious time on this planet doing what other people wanted me to. I had won the lottery of existence, and I was just following some crappy manager’s instructions. We all do it. We make money and follow the herd. It’s safe that way.

All we have to do is give up our dreams and cash that paycheck.

One of my favorite sayings is “How soon not now becomes never.”

For 20 years, I had been saying “not now”to my dream of being a writer, and I felt like I had to just stop making excuses and start taking daily action.

I wasn’t getting younger, and I would regret not doing this before I died. If I didn’t do it, my life would be a waste.

As it stood, I had written 160,000 words during NaNoWriMo, but hadn’t completed my stories. Also, tech is constantly shifting. If I wanted to future proof my job, I wanted a skill that would never go away, but had the potential to impact a lot of people.

But if I was going to write, it had to take priority over my many interests. It had to be more important than news, social media, and YouTube surfing.

Writing, or programming, require extended periods of deep concentration. You have to work without interruption, to maintain a state of flow. I had to stop multi-tasking and start mono-tasking.

So I started twisting the timer and doing my pomodoros, knowing that every session was a step closer to fulfilling my wish.

Every time I just ignored all my self doubt, and twisted the timer, my habit pattern got stronger.

Every time I made damn sure that I did my pomodoros first thing in the morning, before I checked email, made my willpower stronger.

What Will You Sacrifice To Achieve Your Mission?

“We’re on a mission From God.” — Blues Brothers

Think you know your mission? Let’s do a test. Ask yourself this question:

What would I sacrifice to achieve my mission?

Will I sacrifice TV, the news and other dramatic crap you can’t control?

Will I work on weekends when I could be going outside on a beautiful day?

Will I sacrifice partying with my friends to make progress?

Pro Tip: If your friends party, get new friends who are as dedicated to success as you are. Then their hard work will inspire you rather than distract you.

As a writer trying to perfect my craft, I try to either write, read or listen to audiobooks in my genre.

If I can’t do that, I pull out the exercise bike and ride it while playing Elden Ring. Brilliant I know. If I can’t do that I go for a walk.

Now for the final piece of your mission. You need inspirational soundtrack to work too.

A Good Soundtrack Makes Your Spirit Soar and Helps You Focus

If, as Alan Moore says, you are a mythical being on a mythical journey, then what’s your soundtrack?

I work to classic music. Science has shown it helps our brains think better. So does jazz. I’m fond of flamenco guitar too.

Your work sound track shouldn’t be distracting. Personally, I listen to the same music over and over. I’ve cycled through the same 10 core tracks for much of the past 3 years. Why?

First of all I’ve heard it so many times, it doesn’t distract me. Secondly, it’s conditioned me to focus. My subconscious knows when that music is playing, it’s time to crank some shit out.

Rhythm rate is important, so choose peppy music.

I start my morning work ritual everyday with Mannavegr by Danheim. It’s viking music with good drums and is my “I’m on a long, difficult journey, but I got this” music.

At the end of my day when I’m writing my fantasy shorts, I listen to Peter Gundry’s “Two Hours of Celtic Music” for its wide ranging emotional depth.

Other beautiful epic music that runs the gamut of dramatic emotions includes Adrian Von Ziegler and the Witcher 3 game soundtrack. Oh yeah and I dig listening to Cafe de Anatolia.

All of this music can be found on YouTube with no ad interruptions.

In Conclusion

If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you regret not doing? That’s where you will probably find your life’s mission.

Ask yourself, what steps can you take to achieve that? The answer is simple. Just do more of that. How? With complete mono-tasking dedication.

I hope I’ve helped you find your mission, or get more clear on it and how each pomodoro can help you get closer. Maybe now you are read to commit to it in a disciplined, focused fashion.

Don’t freestyle it though. It’s nowhere as effective, imho. Just start small and be relentless consistent. Consistency is king and the discipline of consistency will help you achieve great things throughout your life.

Feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, sad or like you give a fuck anymore?

Don’t think about it.

Twist your timer.

Do another pomodoro.

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Donovan is a copywriter. He uses pomodoros every day, and writes the technomagical Belman Chronicles. He knows so much his brain is going to burst any day now.

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Donovan Rittenbach

Donovan is a copywriter. He uses pomodoros every day, and writes the technomagical Belman Chronicles. He knows so much his brain is going to burst any day now.