There is a secret to effective time management. You have to think in tomatoes rather than hours! This may seem silly at first but millions of people are already convinced by the life-changing power of the Pomodoro Technique.
This popular time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo asks you to alternate focused work sessions (Pomodoros) with frequent short breaks to optimize sustained concentration and prevent mental fatigue.
Try the Pomodoro Technique if you:
- find little distractions derail your work
- always work past the point of optimal productivity
- enjoy gamified goal-setting
- have lots of open-ended work that could take an unlimited amount of time
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is really simple. It contains five simple steps that are repeated several times:
Step 1: Create a ToDo List and get a timer
Step 2: Set your timer for 25 minutes and start with one task. Focus on this task until the timer rings.
Step 3: When the session ends, mark off one Pomodoro and record what you have completed
Step 4: Take a 5-minute break. Do some sports exercise. Take a breath outside.
Step 5: After you finished five Pomodoros you should take a longer, more restorative 15–30 minute break.
While breaking down your tasks in these 25-minute work sprints (a Pomodoro) you have to follow three important rules to get the most out of each Pomodoro:
- Break down the complex workload into a smaller task that does not exceed four Pomodoros.
- Small tasks go together. Tasks that are much smaller than one Pomodoro should be combined together to fill the whole Pomodoro with work
- If the Pomodoro is set, it has to ring! After the Pomodoro has started it is not allowed to interrupt it to check emails, chat, or messages. Any ideas, tasks, or requests have to be noted to read later/after the Pomodoro.
There are two important additions:
- If there is for any reason an event that is unavoidable you can take your 5-minute break and start again with the next Pomodoro. You should track these interruptions as they occur and reflect afterward on how you can avoid them within the next sessions.
- If you finish your task before the timer rings the rules still apply. Use the remaining time to improve skills or overlearn.
Why is Pomodoro Technique Effective?
There are several pros that make the method uniquely suited to boost your productivity
- Everyone can use it. It is easy to start with it.
- It fights distractions and increases focus. While focusing on a task you will not get distracted.
- You become aware of where your time goes. Each Pomodoro has one or more tasks
- You can gamify your productivity. Check how many Pomodoros you can catch
Additional Tips For Pomodoro-ing
To better optimize using the Pomodoro Technique you can follow these simple tips:
Plan your Pomodoros in advance
At the beginning of each workday, you can plan all Pomodoros for the whole day. Normally 16 Pomodoros can be done in an 8-hour workday but you should only plan 12 – 14 Pomodoros upfront. Leave 2–4 Pomodoros as a buffer to fill it with unexpected tasks that will come up during the day or fill it with extra work that has to be done if a task takes longer than expected.
Experiment with the length of Pomodoros
There are types of work that require extended periods. 25 minutes could be too short to design, code, and test. You can try to extend the Pomodoros and increase the work breaks. There are two important studies that already think about different time slots: 52–17 and 90–30
Use apps to enforce Pomodoros
At first, it can be hard to follow the rules of the Pomodoro Technique. You should use an app that informs you about the break you have to do while using the Pomodoro Technique.
The best app you can use should be customizable to how long your work session is and how long your break is. Optionally, you want to have an app that will lock you out of your computer for the duration of the break.
On Windows, you can use: Big Stretch
Get away from your computer
If you are working at a computer you should go away during your breaks. Take a small walk, go outside or do some sports exercises. Don’t switch to Social Media or watch something on YouTube. If you are at home maybe clean the kitchen or do the dishes.
It is not important what you do but you should go away from the computer. This will be much more mentally refreshing than staying on the phone or reading on Social Media.
All in all, I would say that I really like the Pomodoro Technique and I think it will keep its promise of making me more focused and productive. I plan to use it whenever it is possible. Unfortunately, it is impossible to use if you have days full of meetings or presentations.
I’m curious to see if it works for people who regularly have multiple long meetings, phone calls, and appointments so that they cannot fulfill the requirements.
I hope you find this article about the Pomodoro Technique helpful and are able to use it during your day. For further reading use the creator's homepage.
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