On Keeping Your Ass in the Chair

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #316

The hardest part of writing is keeping your ass in the chair.

— Wallace Stegner

The secret to writing a screenplay is keeping your ass in the chair.

— Oliver Stone

The secret to getting stuff done is keeping your ass in the chair.

—Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus

About 20 years ago I learned that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and have had it since childhood (or birth). Iquickly realized I was going to have to learn how to keep my ass in the chair if I wanted to prosper. 

Luckily, it all worked out, and I went on to write or co-write more than 85 books (macOS Mojave For DummiesiPhone For Dummies, andWorking Smarter for Mac Usersto name a few), along with thousands of columns, reviews, and articles. What’s impressive is that I rarely missed a deadline in those 20 years. 

Here’s mysecret: I’ve developed a plethora of tools and techniques designed to help me stay focused on the work at hand whilst keeping my ass in the chair. 

Secret #1:

My first secret is Posture Keeper (www.posturekeeper.com; $89), which I wrote about last July. Billed as a “lumbar support system,” it looks like a backpack with its front half removed. You strap Posture Keeper to your chair and then strap yourself in. Not only does it prevent leaning forward or hunching over, but it also has the added benefit of, quite literally, keeping your ass in the chair. Posture Keeper is great at both; I have mine affixed permanently to my office chair. 

Me and my Posture Keeper.

Secret #2:

Another tool I find indispensable is called the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. 

It’s based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. For me, it’s an excellent idea and one I use almost every day. Moreover, I’ve tried a variety of Mac and iOS timers and time trackers over the years; the one I like best is called Zonebox (free in the Mac App Store).

I love Zonebox for making the time remaining in my session crystal clear …

I love it because it’s not only a great Pomodoro timer, it also lets me create a list of tasks for the whole day (or week) at once. And I love how it displays the time remaining in a session with progress bars and numerical displays. 

For me, the combination of listing today’s tasks and a Pomodoro timer suits my workflow perfectly, but it might not suit yours. If so, I suggest you search the Mac (or iOS) App Store for Pomodoro timer or time trackerto discover dozens of other options. 

One Last Thing…

If the Pomodoro Technique sounds useful to you (trust me — it is), I recommend learning more at its creator’s website, which is chock full of tips and hints for getting the most out of the technique straight from the guy who invented it. 

5
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
3 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
Bob LeVitusMaxfli81geoduckarchimedes Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Maxfli81
Member
Maxfli81

Thanks. I also struggle with focusing. Seems it’s gotten worse the older I get! Downloaded the app and will give this technique a try!

archimedes
Member
archimedes

You can add Richard Nixon to your list of devotees; apparently he was nicknamed “Iron Butt” in law school due to his dedication to studying.

archimedes
Member
archimedes

Sitting seems to be linked to all sorts of diseases; in any case, I can’t work for very long before my Apple Watch interrupts me and demands that I get up and do something else for long enough to forget whatever I was actually working on.

The Pomodoro technique seems to work in a similar fashion – whenever you finally manage to get to work, it interrupts you.

Interruptions are pernicious; apparently it typically takes about half an hour for people to get back on task.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

That is my concern. When I’m writing, fiction especially I get into The Zone. I start telling the story, it flows, it tells itself and I merely transcribe. When I do look up I can have fifty or more pages done, and it’s getting dark outside. Hours may have passed. I’ve been known to have missed meals, TV shows, appointments, going to work, SLEEP. When the writing gets flowing it’s a wonderful experience.

But something that interrupted me every 25 minutes or so would kill my productivity.