William Liao

February 19, 2022

incubation


For those not familiar, the spirit of the Pomodoro Technique is very simple: it’s the incorporation of time-bound periods of work followed by time-bound breaks. 

That’s it. 

In my case, I performed 25-minute chunks of work followed by 5-minute breaks and did a 10-minute walk every two hours. 

After almost a full week of structuring my days this way, I’m happy to report that the same top-level observations that I shared on the first day I tried the technique remain the same: I’m getting more done, I’m less tired, and(!) the solutions to whatever roadblocks I’m facing are consistently coming to mind during my breaks. 

This last observation still fascinates me. It also turns out there’s a term to describe this phenomenon: incubation. Incubation is a concept that was introduced by Graham Wallas in the 1920s as one of four stages of the creative process wherein the brain unconsciously processes a problem when you set it aside in a way that helps you arrive at novel solutions. 

Incubation is 100% a valid phenomenon. I can vouch for it, and, if you’re willing to spend enough time away from the problems you’re focused on, I’m willing to bet that you’ll find it to be valid for you as well. 

Contrary to popular belief, breaks are not the thing getting in the way — it’s the lack of them. 

Take a break, friends — you’ll feel better, you’ll have better ideas. 

Nothing but upside.