Do you ever feel like you’ve worked hard all day, but didn’t get as much accomplished as you thought you would?
If you’re like me, you’re always in need of more time in your day to get more done – but if I’m going to be really honest with myself, most often my issue isn’t the length of the day, but with how I used my time. I don’t always use my time efficiently – I tend to bounce between ideas and tasks and can be easily distracted. Can you relate?
Enter the Pomodoro Technique – a simple time management strategy for getting more done every day – it can really boost your productivity, focus, and motivation. It has made a huge difference for me.
The idea is this – you set a timer for a 25-minute period of time, work with focused attention during that 25-minute period, then take a 5-minute break. Get up and move around, get a glass of water, take care of another little task – anything not-taxing that allows you to shift your focus for 5 minutes and then return for another segment of focused attention. Each 25-minute segment is called a “pomodoro.” After you have completed four “pomodoros” then you take a longer 15-30-minute break.
The Pomodoro Technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s. He came up with the name based on the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used (pomodoro is tomato in Italian). The technique includes physically setting a timer, making a tick mark on a notepad every time you’re distracted, and then making an X mark when you successfully complete the “pomodoro” – these small actions contribute to strengthening your determination to complete the task.
The benefits include improved focus and greater productivity, and less stress and “running on fumes.” Because you have a defined period of time to focus it is easier to resist distractions knowing that a break is just around the corner. The 25-minute period of focus is an achievable win that creates momentum to continue to focus and be productive. There is nothing like achieving a goal to create more motivation to conquer another.
Taking short, scheduled breaks fuels creativity, increases mental agility, and hedges against burn out. It trains our brain that it is healthy to have periods of time for focused work and periods of time for rest and refueling. This new pattern of thinking and doing keeps us energized and helps us achieve better work-life balance.
I’ve found it to be an excellent strategy for managing distractions when I really need to get something done, whether the distractions are internal (like an idea that pops up or remembering I need to do something) or external (being interrupted by something or someone). Knowing I have a break coming makes it easier to drop the distracting idea after jotting down a very brief note and then focus back on the task at hand.
And it fuels the competitive part of me – it encourages me to work with more intention towards a goal I’ve set, and I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes when I’ve successfully completed a “pomodoro” – my new favorite standard of measure for achievable chunks of accomplishment.
Bunny trail alert: When our kids were little we would measure how long a car ride would be or how long they would have to wait before we could do something by X number of Barneys – our kids’ favorite TV show back in the day. 🙂 Do you have any unique standards of measure in your family?
Try the Pomodoro Technique out this week and let me know what you think. You might want to play with different lengths of time – you don’t always have to stick with 25-minute increments. You can use the timer on your smartphone, but there are also many cool apps and timers that have been developed to go with this Technique. Two to check out are the Tomato Timer, a browser app that works best with Google Chrome and Be Focused for iPhone.
Do you have any favorite time management strategies? I’d love to hear!
To your success-