The Pomodoro Technique

Do you ever feel like you get easily distracted when working, and aren’t as productive as you could be?

There a various time management techniques that could help – one to consider is.. thinking in tomatoes rather than hours?

Yep – you read that right. Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato 🍅 – there we are, I’m not going bonkers..)

This time management technique asks you to alternate your focused work sessions, or Pomodoro’s if you will.. with regular, frequent short breaks. This will encourage concentration, and trust me, will give you pride and a feeling of achievement when you recognise your improvement on productivity.

Try the Pomodoro Technique if you…

  • Find little distractions make you feel like you’ve fallen down a black hole!
  • Feel frustrated for not making the most out of your core working hours
  • Have lots of open-ended work that could take unlimited amounts of time (for example, studying for an exam, research for a blog post, etc.)
  • Are overly optimistic when it comes to how much you can get done in a day (aren’t we all 🙃)
  • Really like tomatoes (pah!)

The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980’s by then university student Francesco Cirillo, who was struggling to focus on his studies and complete assignments. To help reduce feeling overwhelmed, he asked himself to commit to just 10 minutes of focused study time; he found a tomato shaped kitchen timer, and the Pomodoro technique was born.

  • Get a to-do list and a timer.
  • Set your timer for 25 minutes, and focus on a single task until the timer rings.
  • When your session ends, mark off one pomodoro and record what you completed.
  • Then enjoy a five-minute break.
  • After four Pomodoro’s, take a longer, more significant 15-30 minute break.

The Pomodoro technique can really help when planning a project, or even just your normal working day.

When you start working in short, timed sessions, time is no longer minutes and hours in front of you, it’s a set schedule of blocks of time available to you. The Pomodoro is an event that measures your focus on a single task (or several simple tasks).

The concept of time, or lack of it, changes from a negative — something that has been lost — to a positive representation of achievement and productivity.

Take 15 minutes at the beginning of your workday (or at the end if you’re planning for the next day), to plan out your Pomodoro schedule. Take your to-do list for the day and note how many Pomodoro’s each task will take. (Tasks that will take more than 5 Pomodoro’s should be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Smaller tasks, like responding to emails, can be batched together in a single Pomodoro.)

Once this planning stage is complete, it means you’ll start your working day with a clear plan, a focused schedule, that can show you that your to-do list is achievable, manageable, and dare I say it – enjoyable!

Once your timer starts, it must go off! Keep focused throughout the time available to you, and you’ll be rewarded at the end of that session.

In the event of an unavoidable disruption, take your five-minute break and start again. Cirillo recommends that you track interruptions as they occur, to reflect on how to avoid them in your next session.

A typical few sessions might look like:

Get away from screens during breaks

If your Pomodoro work sessions happen on your computer, when it’s ‘break time’ don’t just switch over to Twitter or Instagram, or switch to your phone to doom-scroll when the timer goes off.

Give your eyes a rest as well as your brain; that means your phone too! Stand up, move around, stretch, go outside, read a few pages of your book, grab a snack, watch birds out the window. If you work from home, fold some clothes or clear off the kitchen table.

Whatever you do, your break will be much more mentally refreshing if you get away from screen time on your computer or phone.

Making it easy to just get started

Research has shown the procrastination has little to do with laziness or lack of self-control.

It’s uncomfortable to stare down a big task or project – one you may not be sure how to even do or one that involves a lot of uncertainty.

Studies have shown an effective way to shrink whatever it is you’re putting off down to a tiny, unintimidating first step. For example, instead of sitting down to write novel, sit down to write for 5 minutes.

The strategy to rid you of your procrastination is exactly what the Pomodoro technique encourages you to do: break down your big tasks, projects, or goals into something you only have to do for the next 25 minutes. It keeps you hyper focused on the one next thing you need to do rather than get overwhelmed by the enormity of what you’re taking on. Don’t worry about the outcome — just take it one Pomodoro at a time.

And that’s it!

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried the technique, and if it worked for you.

I am also a huge advocate of co-working sessions online – where you commit to a co-working meet, tell each other at the start of the call what you’ll complete in the time, and then check in with each other at the end to report your progress. The platform I use is worldwide, and has thousands of users. You will regularly be connected with people who are focusing and working on the other side of the world!

Co-working sessions can either be 25 or 50 minutes long; I’ve found them to be a great way to focus, stay accountable, and structure my working day and week.

My mantra for this is it’s working alone, but not lonely.

If you’d like more details about the co-working sessions, just get in touch.

Good luck, and remember, it’s one Pomodoro at a time.

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