More Magic Dots

A New Jersey patent attorney named Jim D writes:

I’ve been using the magic dots as you described, marking a dot or line every six minutes. I use an online timer with an audible tone every six minutes. A portion of my work requires focus, as I have to review, compare and contrast technical documents. I’ve historically had limited ability to focus for extended periods of time. I’ve used an online bar graph countdown timer, but even with the visual feedback of the bar graph counting down, the longest I could go without a short break was 20 minutes. I’ve also tried online Pomodoro timers, with alternating work and break periods, but again, the longest I could go without a break was 20 minutes.

In contrast, by using the magic dots method, I can easily focus for 60 minutes. I’ve been working for 60 minutes until the box is completed, and then taking a short break before starting another 60 minute box. After a few more weeks, I will see if I can extend the focus length for a longer period of time. (As an aside, I wonder if completing an entire “box” is psychologically important, and, if so, would a 90 minute “box” shape work better than continuing with consecutive 60 minute boxes?).

I don’t think finishing a box matters. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. A friend used a much different counting system; it also worked. After years of using six-minute intervals I have started to use five-minute intervals; they don’t interfere too much and shorter intervals are likely to be more powerful. I would like to compare different interval lengths but it is a difficult experiment to do.

3 Replies to “More Magic Dots”

  1. I’ve had a very similar experience. Visual graph type feedback doesn’t really do much for me but magic dots work fairly well. I found 6 minutes too short and changed the interval to 10 minutes so I now make magic triangles. I started out trying to work an hour at a time but today I managed 2 hours. I seem to be getting better at extending the time worked but… time will tell

  2. For a quick cheap OS X timer, put this in a file called

    # a script to say magic dot every 6 minuts, for ever.
    for (( ; ; ))
    say “magic dot”
    sleep 360

    Then type chmod 755 in the directory the file is in (or open it’s properties and make it executable). Then at a terminal, type (or double click on it, I would think)

    ./ &

    and your computer will say “magic dot” every 6 minutes.

    To make it stop, close the terminal window it was run from. Or just leave the & off, and close the terminal window. Worst case, reboot.

  3. Nice. To make it double-clickable on a Mac, however, I believe you should call it magic_dots.command rather than; double-clicking on that should open up a window which you can close to end the process. You ought to be able to make it stop with

    killall magic_dots.command

    which could also be in a double-clickable stop_dots.command file; haven’t tried.

    (On Ubuntu, where the “say” command does not exist, I will now use

    espeak -v en “magic dot”

    for an equivalent script, which does stop with “killall” — thanks!)

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