One day I need to have ‘that’ chat with them

I imagine that in years to come the conversation may go a bit like this:

Me: Reuben, Joshua—come with me, I need to have an important chat with you.

Reuben and Joshua: Oh no! It’s ‘the sex chat’.

Me: No, it’s not ‘the sex chat’, I need to instruct you in the important and various methods of lacing up your shoes.

No one ever had that chat with me and I wish they did because it took me hours of experimenting to find the method that I like best, which is bottom-right to top-left and then lacing the remainder up with a nice, neat and even horizontal cross.

One day they will thank me.

Pomodoro technique for productivity

Pomodoro tomato kitchen timer
Pomodoro tomato kitchen timer

A few months ago I came across a productivity technique called Pomodoro. The name comes from a Pomodoro kitchen timer that the creator of the technique first used; pomodoro is Italian for ‘tomato’.

The technique is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. It combines five steps:

  1. Choose a task to complete.
  2. Set the Pomodoro timer to 25 minutes.
  3. Work on the task, uninterrupted, until the timer rings.
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes).
  5. Every four ‘Pomodoros’ take a longer break (15-20 minutes).

Windows 7 gadget

I thought I’d give it a go and not having a kitchen timer to hand went to look for a Windows 7 gadget that would give me this functionality. But I really didn’t like any of the specifically Pomodoro gadgets. They were either ugly (sorry), took up too much room, offered more eye candy than functionality, or were locked into a strict 25 minutes/5 minutes cycle.

This week, however, I discovered the Work/Break Cycle Timer from Daniel (he doesn’t supply his surname):

Screenshot of instructions showing how the timer works

First off it is compact and just looks great.

The timer has two states (white and blue). Set the white timer to how ever long you want to focus on work, the length of your break is set using the blue timer. An alarm goes off when the timer reaches zero; or, alternatively, the timer can control your iTunes, pausing it for the break.

The timers are easily set by clicking and dragging the hours, minutes and seconds digits up or down with the mouse.

So far I’ve found it a very useful little gadget.

An email from Luxembourg

Map of Europe highlighting location of Luxembourg
Map of Europe highlighting (in red) the location of Luxembourg

Last night I received an email from Luxembourg. I had to look up on Google Maps to remind me where Luxembourg is. It’s in Europe (I knew that), near France (I knew that too), and next to Belgium and Germany (that’s the bit that I’d forgotten).

The email was inviting me to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in April to a dual celebration: the baptism/christening of Georgina and the 40th birthday of her father, my dear (and sensible) friend Jonny Grocock.

Danny Curtis, Gareth Saunders and Jonny Grocock sitting on a car in 1993
Danny Curtis, Gareth Saunders and Jonny Grocock sitting on a car in 1993

I first met Jonny in December 1988 at St Elphin’s School, Darley Dale on my first National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYC) course. That was the night the water pipes broke and we were all evacuated to the library at around 3:00 am.

The burst pipes had nothing to do with NYC.

Nope. Nothing. Nothing at all. Well…maybe just a little bit.

But not me: I was asleep. Being sensible.

That’s what I was like in those days. It was my first NYC course and I woke around 2:30 am to the sound of running water. I just assumed that this was an NYC tradition: showers in the middle of the night of the first night of a course.

It could happen!

Jonny, Danny Curtis and me all became Social Secretaries in NYC in 1993, after the first World Tour.  They are two of my best friends in all the world. And perhaps even further afield.

I’m going to do my very best to get to Luxembourg to see him. You just watch me!