Are you interested in learning how to get more done in less time?
Did you discover that you were unproductive during the recent Covid-19 lockdown?
Are you ready to get back to work but feel you have completely lost focus?
Then, consider the Pomodoro Technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. He used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato (pomodoro in Italian) to breakdown tasks into 25-minute intervals with a quick 3-5 minute break in between.
A very low-tech approach to time management, for sure, but a highly effective tool because it keeps you focused for a period of time (25 minutes) and then gives your eyes and brain a quick change of pace to refresh. Using this particular technique allows uninterrupted focused time. Set the timer to focus on the task at hand and the ringing announces a break. Simple, yet effective — 25 minutes on, five minutes off, over and over again.
- Choose a task carefully.
- Set the timer (traditionally 25 minutes, however I find that 45 minutes works best for me).
- Stay focused and uninterrupted working on the task at hand.
- As soon as the buzzer rings, step away from the task for 3-5 minutes. (What is best for me is a 15-minute break.)
- During the break, go outside and get a breath of fresh air or a dab of sunshine; or go make a sandwich for lunch; or spend a few minutes flexing your fingers and toes which are intimately correlated with the brain. Choose wisely how you will use your free time.
- After four consecutive intervals (approximately 2 hours if you are using the 25-minute scenario) take a longer break.
- There are definitely variations of this technique, so don’t feel locked into any particular rule. You can change the timing to fit your work style: say 90-minute intervals which reflects a natural concentration cycle. Another variation would be the time it takes for a load of clothes to complete the wash or dry cycle. Or, consider how much time you have available between appointments or waiting for the kids to come home from school, then work within that time frame. All of these variations preserve the core principles of the Pomodoro Technique — working in specific time blocks and taking a break periodically. You get to decide.
Remember, it is just as important to stop as it is to start.
We have been brought up with the assumption that the more hours spent on something the more successful we will be. But, that assumption is just not true. Science has proven that ill-defined, interruptible time is unproductive time. Start today by setting some boundaries around the time you have available to do a particular task. And remember, you get to choose just how long your intervals will be!