A lot of people swear by repeated blocks of 20 minutes for powering through work tasks with the Pomodoro technique.

For photography work, this doesn't work for me. Also, for most of my writing. When I get into a work task, I often get into flow. In those instances, it's sometimes good for me to just keep going, but I know I'll pay for it later.

For non-flow tasks, like email or administrative tasks (filing, taxes, blergh), 20 minute blocks are often too short.

But I find 20 minute blocks perfect for all sorts of non-work tasks, and especially for making regular progress on larger creative projects.

I don't often set a timer, except for tasks where I could get carried away. Too much cross stitch or crochet can end up hurting!

What things do I do in 20 minutes?


  • Stitch two strands in my current cross stitch project.
  • Crochet one granny square for my blanket (although, I usually leave this project for doctors' waiting rooms).
  • Crochet one row in my ripple blanket (it's finished now, *pout*).
  • Crochet a few rows in my shawl.
  • Draft or polish a blog post (tips to get started blogging for patrons).
  • Take a photo of something in my balcony garden, the cats, or something in the house
  • Edit a few photos.
  • Read a chapter in a novel (it's hard to stick to just one!)
  • Play piano - short sessions are better for re-learning piano, and animated gorgeous visualisations make it more fun to practice, even if it is just piano scales.
  • Run through a word list for learning German or Japanese.
  • Do a few exercises from my German or Japanese books.
  • Watch an episode of anime (learning Japanese at the same time. Really!)
  • Listen to a podcast or audiobook.
  • Work through an exercise in one of the courses I'm following.
  • Do an exercise from the Right to Write.

I find 20 minutes too short for most larger patchwork and sewing projects. Plus the setup time can be longer than this!


  • Stretch.
  • Write in my journal.
  • Write an email to a friend, or package up a present to send to them by post.
  • Meditate.
  • Do my foot exercises (I'm following the program from Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman).
  • Do some tai chi, yoga or Wii Fit.
  • Massage my arms or feet with a ball.
  • Put drops in my eyes - I have terrible trouble with this, so it takes about 15 minutes.
  • Take a bath or a hot shower.
  • Have a foot or hand bath.
  • Steam my head and sinuses.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Have a cup of tea and perhaps a sweet treat.
  • Call my mum (this happens almost daily for my peace of mind).


  • Make the dough for a loaf of bread.
  • Make a cake or cookies and pop them into the oven - my favourite cake is an orange cranberry bundt that freezes perfectly.
  • Prep veggies for a roast.
  • Make a curry, chili, pasta sauce, goulash, or another stew (left overs are the best!)
  • Make and cook meatballs, then freeze them.
  • Make popcorn on the stove.
  • Can some quick vegetable pickles or make a bowl of ramen soup.
  • Bake cookies from frozen and then sliced dough.
  • Make homemade ice cream (two 20 minute blocks, a day apart).
  • Make some jam or cordial and bottle it.
  • Set up a batch of mead, cider or ginger beer, or bottle a finished batch.
  • Make pancakes or okonomiyaki.


These are not enjoyable, so I try to get as much done as I can in 20 minutes.

  • Vacuum one or two rooms thoroughly - necessary when you have two very furry cats.
  • Clean the bathroom (excluding the shower).
  • Scrub the shower and bath tub.
  • Dust the reachable surfaces.
  • Do the mending.
  • Hang up the washing, or put it away.
  • Water the pot plants on the terrace.
  • Pull some weeds (unfortunately, plants in pots still grow weeds).
  • Deep clean the kitchen benches.
  • Descale the kitchen appliances.
  • De-fur the cushions, chairs and cat climbing tree.
  • Throw out a handful of things to make life simpler - paper, clutter, irreparable clothing.
  • Write the weekly menu and shopping list.

What things do you regularly break into 20 minute blocks?