Sitting down to work and focusing on the task at hand can be hard regardless if you are a student working on an assignment, writer trying to get in your word count or an entrepreneur trying to get the next project off the ground. That’s where productivity tricks and techniques, like the Pomodoro productivity technique come in handy. This particular method is designed to help you focus for longer periods of time while still having short breaks, long enough to catch your breath but short enough for you not to loose focus. It is exceptionally simple to use and very effective (when committed to).
The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francisco Cirillo, a developer, a consultant and an author. He named it a Pomodoro Technique after the tomato-shaped timer that he used as a student. He used it to track the time spent on his work and to improve his productivity and efficiency.
Since then, millions of people have been using this technique and enjoying the benefits of a more focused, productive and at the same time more relaxed life. Cirillo himself has created several courses teaching the technique and has written a book outlining the technique in detail.
What is Pomodoro Technique
It is a simple method of chunking your time into two timed intervals. The first internal, used for work, helps you focus on a task at hand for a specific amount of time. The other, significantly shorter, provides you with a short mental and physical break to help you stay relaxed and motivated.
Before you start…
Clear out your destructions. Put on noise cancelling headphones. Turn off your ringers and notifications. Do what you need to to create a space where you can focus and work in peace.
Choose a task to complete.
When you are starting first thing in the morning, choose the most important or the most difficult task. Divide it into smaller chunks or parts to keep motivated as you move through towards your goal.
Set a timer for 25 minutes.
Whether you choose a tomato kitchen timer, Pomodoro Timer app or any other timer on a device, it really makes no difference. The bottom line is that you know that you have 25 minutes to get as much work done as possible on the chosen task.
Work on the task for the duration of the timer.
With distractions eliminated, your task chosen, and the timer set you are ready to go. For the next 25 minutes do your best to stay focused on the task and avoid any interruptions in your workflow.
When the 25-minute interval is up, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
A sticky note works well or if you’re using a journal to keep track of your time, you may record it there.
Take a 5 minute break.
Walk around, grab a drink, stretch. Walk away from your desk and relax for a moment.
Continue with the 25 – 5 minutes intervals 3 more times.
After 2 hours take a longer break, 20 – 30 minutes should suffice.
Benefits of Pomodoro Productivity Technique
Here are some benefits of using Pomodoro Technique while working on your projects:
It forces you to chunk your work. For many of us big project or assignments are overwhelming. When you divide it into smaller pieces and work on one part at a time, the anxiety often subsides and you are more motivated to get started.
It helps you focus on one task at a time. When we look at a project as a whole, sometimes we are not sure where to start. Pomodoro Technique helps you look at different areas or components you have to work on and decide which part you want to tackle first.
It will help you avoid distractions. When you give yourself a specific and fairly short amount of time to work on certain project, you are more likely to avoid distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. It motivates you to keep going and before you know it the time is up. The 25 minutes goes by much faster than you expected and you have accomplished more that you would have otherwise.
It helps you realize how much time you spend on the project. Often time we think the project we are working on will take certain amount of time. But when we actually start to track the time we worked on it, we realize that we either underestimated or, on occasion, overestimated the time needed to complete the project.
It improves your productivity and efficiency. As you set your mind to focus on one task without distractions, for 25 minutes, you will increase your productivity. And as you increase your productivity throughout the day, you will become more efficient. The tasks that previously took you significant amount of time will be completed in no time.
Useful Tools to Get You Started
First of all, you need a timer. It really doesn’t matter what timer you choose. But if you want to stay true to the Pomodoro Technique, you can get a tomato kitchen timer. When placed on your desk, it provides a great visual reminder to stay on task until the timer runs out.
However, most of us prefer smart phones and digital devices to analog ones. If you’re looking for an app for your iPhone, this Pommie – Pomodoro Timer is a great option.
If you do interval training and already have an interval timer app for your workouts, you can use that instead. Program it for 4 – 25 minutes ‘workout’ sessions with 5 minutes ‘rests’ in between and you are ready to go.
Goal and Time Tracking
Even though the technique suggests you put a check-mark for each 25-minute period on a piece of paper, many prefer to keep track of their goals and tasks in a more formal way.
There are many journals, planners and goal setting workbooks out there. However, one that lends itself really well to tracking not only your tasks and goals, but also time you spend on them is Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change.
It provides space to write:
– your most important daily task
– two other daily tasks you’d like to accomplish
– two additional tasks
But the main reason to use this planner above all others is that it asks you to estimate the time you think you’ll spend on this task, gives you designated space to record your Pomodoro time intervals and asks you to write how much time you actually spent on the task.
It is truly eye opening to see the time we estimate we will spend on our goals and the time we actually spend.
Pomodoro productivity technique is very simple and effective. It will, without a doubt, bring more focus and effectiveness to your work and more efficiency to your day.
Have you used Pomodoro Technique or perhaps other productivity technique to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time? I’d love to hear your experience with improving your productivity!