Are you having trouble staying focused? The Pomodoro Technique may be just what you need. I’ve been trying it out quite a bit lately, both at my office and at home, and it has helped me maintain my focus on a task long enough to make serious progress–much better than my usual, distracted self who tends to bounce from thing to thing every few minutes.
If you need to buckle down and get some things done, the Pomodoro Technique can help you power through distractions with laser focus. With this technique, you focus on tasks for short bursts of time followed by short breaks. You repeat the work time and break time over and over again for as long as you need or want to. Think of it like sprint interval workouts that runners do to increase their speed.
The Pomodoro Technique was created by a gentleman named Francesco Cirillo, who named the system after the tomato-shaped timer he used to concentrate on his work as a university student. His method is quite simple: break down tasks into short intervals of intense work followed by short breaks. Rinse and repeat.
I have found the Pomodoro Technique to be a wonderful way to attack my to-do list with energy. Setting a timer creates a sense of urgency, and makes work into a game where you’re racing to best the clock. (Can you tell I’m competitive? ?) I recently wrote about 5 ways setting a timer helps me get more done in less time, so I won’t go into all of the reasons I love using a timer right now. But I do want to tell you more specifically about how you can benefit from using the Pomodoro Technique.
Not only is this time management method useful, but it’s also extremely simple to implement–a huge win for anyone wanting to be more productive! You won’t have any involved process to set up or tools to use for this one, all you need is a timer and some stuff that needs to get done (I’m sure you can think of something ?).
This productivity method is great for training your brain to focus on the project at hand for those short periods of time, because you know you’ll get a break shortly. This type of interval work is very common in the fitness world, so it makes complete sense to apply the same thinking to other areas of our lives. Think about it: Will you exercise with more intensity if you only have to do it for 25 minutes as opposed to an hour or more?
The same is true of our projects at the office, or even chores around the house. If you commit to working on a task for 25 minutes and start the timer, you’ll work with a sense of urgency knowing you only have a limited time to finish the task. And if you are dreading the task, you’ll be able to endure it knowing it’s only for 25 minutes.
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If you have two hours to complete something, it will probably take you the full two hours. But if you only have 25 minutes to finish it, you’ll likely be able to do it in less the time. Giving ourselves deadlines and racing against the clock is a fabulous motivator!
A Quick Start Guide To Using The Pomodoro Technique
Have I sold you on the benefits of using a timer to boost your productivity yet? If you want to give the Pomodoro Technique a whirl, you can do so very easily.
- Choose one task from your to-do list.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Get to work and stay focused until your timer goes off.
- Take a five-minute break.
- Rinse and repeat.
It is suggested to complete four 25-minute work/break intervals and then take a longer break. There is an entire book on this technique that goes into much more detail if you are curious to learn more about it.
What type of work is best for the Pomodoro Technique?
In my experience, this technique can be used to accomplish almost anything. Here are some types of work that I think are perfect for it:
- If you have an enormous project that seems daunting, you can often feel paralyzed and not know where to begin. Setting that timer and chipping away at it 25 minutes at a time is a great way to make progress.
- If you have several small, monotonous tasks that you are dreading, try to see how many you can finish in 25 minutes.
- If you have a job where your performance is based on your work output, the Pomodoro Technique will help you dig in and crank out some projects.
- If you find yourself dabbling in a lot of different things but never really checking anything off the to-do list, this will force you to focus on one single task and actually complete it.
- I use the timer built into the clock on my iPhone. It’s simple and convenient. There are numerous apps out there that are specifically designed for the Pomodoro Technique. While I love a great digital tool, I haven’t tried any of them. Honestly, I feel like my basic timer will suffice.
- One of my biggest time sucks is ideas and to-dos floating through my head when I’m in the middle of working on something else. Rather than switching gears right then and there (my usual tendency), I now keep a notebook next to me and scribble the thought down to revisit later. That way I know I won’t forget it but still stay focused on the project at hand until the time runs out.
- While the Pomodoro Technique is specifically 25 minutes of work followed by a short break, it can easily be adapted to any length of time. Personally, I’ve found that 40 to 45 minutes of focused work time tends to work best for most of my projects at work.
- Just because the timer goes off doesn’t mean you have to take a break. I often find myself dragging my feet to start something, so I set the timer as a way to force myself to get to work. When the timer runs out, I sometimes feel like I just got into the flow. If I feel like I can easily keep working, I’ll restart the timer for another 25 minutes and keep working away.
Overall, I feel like I benefit from using the Pomodoro Technique. I do often modify it to longer periods of time, which just goes to show that it’s best to experiment and find time management strategies that work well for you and your work style. Following this productivity method certainly helps me maintain my focus and it also helps avoid burnout. I tend to get extremely engrossed in my work and will stare at my computer for hours on end, so having that timer as a reminder to stretch and take a quick mental break is helpful.
Have you heard of this time management method before? Will you give it a try? Let me know what you think in the comments.
Wishing you insanely productive day!
P.S. If you are looking for more advice on managing your time wisely, you may enjoy my free Crush Your Week email course. Enroll here and you’ll learn how to intentionally design your week in just five days.
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