I'm Tom and welcome to my site.

Want to learn how I went from writing nearly nothing to writing thousands of words a month?

($37 value). Read more here.

Enter your email address here for free updates and your free eBook. (Guaranteed 100% privacy.)

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com

“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 

Entries in time management (3)


How to Conquer the World (25 Minutes at a Time) Part 2 

In Part 1 of the Pomodoro Technique, we talked about the benefits of working on your projects in short, highly focused “sprints.” In Part 2, I’ll share the basics of the technique to see if it’s something you want to explore a bit further on your own.

How do you get started with the Pomodoro Technique?
Getting started isn’t hard at all– in fact, it’s so simple kids can even use it.

All you need is:
1. A pen
2. Paper
3. A timer (kitchen timer or a stopwatch, etc.)

(I’ll over-simplify the process so you get the idea. The free e-book goes into much further details.)

1. Grab some paper. Label it “Activity Inventory.”
This is just like your master “to-do” list. Take a few minutes to write down everything you want to do for today, tomorrow, next week or even next year. Just get it all out of your head.

2. Grab another sheet of paper and title it “To Do Today.”
Look at your “Activity Inventory” and select one or a few things you’d like to accomplish today. You may not be able to finish your project(s); that’s okay. Over time, you’ll learn to evaluate how much time your projects really need. For now, just pick a few projects you’d like to chip away at.

3. Set the timer for 25 minutes. And go!
You now have 25 minutes of dedicated, intense, focused work. If your timer makes a sound, you may find the sound sends a subconscious signal that it’s time to get to work. You may find it too distracting. Find what works for you and stick with it.

4. When the timer goes off, stop!
Then take a 3-5 minute break. Get up, walk around, clean up the kitchen, whatever. Don’t start anything too intensive if you’re about to tackle another 25-minute session.

Each pomodoro is 25 minutes (or whatever you choose)
After each pomodoro session, take a 3-5 minute break. You can return to your previous work or you can start a new project for another 25-minute pomodoro session.

You can plan your day to accomplish one, three or ten pomodoros. It’s totally up to you and your goals for the day (and beyond).

What about interruptions?
Ideally, during a pomodoro session we don’t want interruptions. Of course, that’s living in a dream world. Interruptions are bound to happen.

So what do we do when we get interrupted? The technique handles interruptions by first dividing them into two categories:
• Internal interruptions
• External interruptions

Internal interruptions
We all have internal interruptions while working. We’re thinking of other things to do when we finish our task. When these thoughts arise and distract us, take a second to mark the idea down on your “To Do Today” list. If it’s an activity for another day, write it on your “Activity Inventory” list. Return to your session and continue working. The idea is to write it down so you don’t forget. Then quickly return to your session.

External interruptions
You can handle external interruptions by telling people you’re busy now and you’ll get back to them at a certain time. Then write down your commitment so you don’t forget. Return to your session.

This sounds ridiculously simple
Time management is meant to be complicated, right? With lots of rules, do’s and don’t’s.

Simplicity is the Pomodoro Technique’s strength
When I first read about this technique, I dismissed it. But later in the day, this nagging thought kept haunting me; hmm, maybe this thing is worth exploring. I’m glad I checked it out.

Boosting productivity
I don’t think I’ve ever been this productive. I use it consistently for most writing projects. For example, if a project is fairly large, then maybe I’ll commit to three pomodoro sessions a day to that project. Then maybe I’ll commit to two sessions for another project and one for a third project.

That’s seven, 25-minute highly focused writing sessions. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll accomplish in just 3.5 hours of highly focused, uninterrupted work.

Hey, you may not be using sprints to boost your running performance
But you can use “sprints” to tackle time in a way that boosts your creativity and productivity. in ways that make you feel like you’re conquering the world.

Several (free) things to get you started
Check out the Pomodoro website. They have some really cool items you don’t want to miss:
1. An e-book detailing the entire process.
2. Downloadable sheets: The Pomodoro “Cheat Sheet,” the “Activity Inventory” sheet and the “To Do Today” sheet.

The free e-book is also available in a paperback edition (amazon affiliate link).

I bought the “Pomodoro Technique Illustrated” book (amazon affiliate link) and found it helpful. The book brings the technique to life in a simple and practical way.


How to Conquer the World (25 Minutes at a Time) Part 1 

From 1980 to 1990, I was a pretty serious runner.
10K’s (6.2 miles) were my main gig.
I threw in a few 5K’s and 10 milers to spice things up a bit.

Training for these races often involved running “intervals”
Intervals means you to run a series of short, focused sprints.
Short, focused sprints pushes your oxygen consumption to its max.

The end result? You run faster and further, improving your racing times.

Imagine applying highly focused “sprints” to your projects
So your output (and creativity) improves significantly.
That’d be pretty cool, huh?

Guess what? I came across a time management technique that uses the same principle.

My productivity (and creativity) boosted quite a bit using this super-simple method so I figured hey, why not share it with you, too?

It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. (And it’s free.)

What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management tool. I know, I know. How boring is that, right?

You’re thinking this is another gimmick. How many more of these things do we need to know about?

Hang on. That’s what I thought, too. Man, was I ever wrong.

I’m probably like you. I have my to-do list ready to go every day. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I’m not.

The problem with time? It’s invisible
It’s hard to see, feel, touch or grasp. But grasp it we must if we’re committed to accomplishing (and conquering) the things we want to do today, tomorrow or in five years.

In the late 1980’s, Francesco Cirillo was a student. As a student he was frustrated he couldn’t concentrate on his homework like he wanted to. Too many distractions were getting in his way.

Francesco made a bet with himself
Could he concentrate (without being distracted) for just 10 minutes? Hmm. If he could, how would he know when the 10 minutes was up? He needed to validate his time. He needed a timer. Then he spotted a kitchen timer in the shape of a pomodoro.

A pomodoro? What’s that?
“Pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian. The kitchen timer Francesco used to time his work was in the shape of a tomato. The timer enabled him to measure how much time he could concentrate on his homework. Over time, Francesco settled on 25 minutes as an optimum time to focus his efforts on a project before needing a short break.

The Pomodoro Technique was born
Time could be captured and put in a “box.”
25-minute boxes.

So why bother using the Pomodoro Technique?
When we focus intensely on only one task for 25 minutes, we immediately feel a sense of accomplishment. In addition:
• You strengthen your resolve to continue applying yourself.
• Your anxiety to accomplish difficult projects is lessened.
• Your motivation to do more increases.
• Your concentration deepens with fewer interruptions.

All this changes how we see time.

Time isn’t your enemy anymore. Time becomes your friend
Gone are the days of thinking, “I’m not getting out my chair for the next three hours till this is done!”

Spend three hours on a project if you want
But try “sprinting” your way through those three hours.
Take short breaks in-between the 25-minute sessions.
You’ll feel a difference.

In Part 2, we’ll look at:
• What you need to start.
• How to start.
• How to handle interruptions.
• Where to get some neat (and free) tools to help you get the most out of the method.

P.S. I’m not running anymore. Um, biking is easier on the knees!


How the 10-20-30 Principle Cures Chaotic Writing Schedules

Ever get a song stuck in your head?
Sure you have.

Ah, yes, but have you ever tried to stop it?
And you can’t?

What makes that song so memorable?
The song’s got rhythm, my friend, rhythm!

But wait a minute.

Is your writing schedule as infectious as that rhythm in the song?

If not, then how do you throw some of that good ol’ rhythm into your writing day?

Actually, it’s pretty darn easy.

Just use the 10-20-30 Principle.

What is the 10-20-30 Principle?
The 10-20-30 Principle is a simple schedule to help build up your writing discipline. If you struggle with a disciplined writing schedule, 10-20-30 is flexible and easy to remember.

What are the three components to 10-20-30?
10-20-30 has only three components:
1. 10 minutes of writing
2. 20 minutes break
3. 30 minutes of writing

How does the 10-20-30 Principle work?
10-20-30 is ridiculously easy to master and use. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you’ve got this idea buzzing around your head. Getting this “buzzing idea” out of your head and onto paper is simple with 10-20-30.

10: Outline for 10 minutes
First, outline your idea. This is where, in 10 minutes or less, you outline your idea so you’ll have some direction for your article. Sculpt your idea into something that has structure and bones. Now you know where the article is headed.

20: Break for 20 minutes
Go grab some coffee, check your email, Twitter or whatever. Create some space before plunging into your article.

30: Write for 30 minutes
Now take 30 minutes and start writing your article. Or blog post. Or whatever.

That’s all there is to it.

What if you don’t finish your outline in 10 minutes?
Do you give up? Change subjects?

If your outline isn’t flowing easily, try doing two things:
1. Ask a friend to ask you questions about your topic. You’ll quickly discover an angle you can write about.
2. Change the topic and perspective. And change it drastically. Instead of writing about cars, write about volunteering. Getting unstuck in one topic requires leaving one world and entering another world.

What if you don’t finish your writing in 30 minutes?
Depending on your schedule, just go about your business and pick up later the same day. Or continue the following day.

But remember: write everyday!

Heck, if you can remember 10-20-30, then you can remember to write. And if you can remember to write for 30 minutes a day, in a few months you’ll feel like you moved mountains!

But moving mountains you're not
You’re moving ideas. And those ideas need a little structure. If you don’t have a foolproof way to keep your writing motivation moving forward, your progress will be slow at best.

The 10-20-30 Principle is like a mental hook your brain can easily remember: 10-20-30.

Pretty simple, huh? And you know what else is neat about the 10-20-30 trick? It keeps you in harmony with your motivation for writing. You feel like writing isn’t a chore; it’s something you’ll want to do.

Why does the 10-20-30 Principle work? What’s the secret behind it?
The secret to successful writing is to write every day. Writing every day is one of the biggest problems facing new writers. It’s darn hard committing yourself to write every single day.

You need a way to break down the large idea of “writing” into tiny chunks of time. Using a rhythm like 10-20-30 breaks your projects down into bite-size chunks.

How flexible is 10-20-30?
It’s super-duper flexible! You can modify it to your liking in a couple of ways:
1. Outline in 10 minutes, take a break for 20 minutes, then write your article for 30 minutes.
2. Outline 10 minutes in the morning. Break during the day. 30 minutes at night.
3. Write 30 minutes in the morning. Break during the day. Outline 10 minutes at night.

Isn’t it kinda crazy to think a rhythm like this can help you?
Sure, you may hate timers and sticking to a schedule. I know– you like to create at your own pace. Here’s the thing. If your work isn’t progressing and you’re struggling with writing every day, then change your rhythm.

Change your rhythm and you will change your output
So yeah, changing your output can be as easy as 10-20-30.

• There’s rhythm everywhere in life.
• Your writing schedule is no exception: it needs rhythm, too.
• Establishing a rhythm is as easy as 10-20-30.
• 10 minutes to outline.
• 20 minutes break (or longer).
• 30 minutes writing.

It’s easy to fall behind without rhythm. A simple solution is sticking to a disciplined, yet flexible schedule.

Writing is learning about structure
You time needs structure, too.

So the next time you fire up your computer to write, remember: 10. 20. 30.

Do you have a different schedule and rhythm? What works for you?