It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I’m getting back to business and back to writing. One of the strategies I use to stay on task and get more done is the Pomodoro Technique. While everyone is different, and there is likely a productivity strategy out there that works for you, give the Pomodoro technique a try to see if it might work for you.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
In the late 1980s, Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro technique as a time management tool. The idea is that you break your time down into intervals, known as “pomodoros.” (Pomodoro = “tomato” in Italian.) One pomodoro is equal to about 25 minutes of concentrating on a task, and a short break of three to five minutes.
The idea is to go hard at a task for a set period of time, and then take a short break. After you’ve completed four pomodoros, take a longer break of between 15 and 30 minutes. In theory, the pomodoro technique is a way for you to concentrate your efforts on one task rather than getting caught up in the myth of multitasking. You get a short break to reset and refresh your mind, and then you either continue the same task (if it isn’t done) or you switch to a new task. The idea of a longer break after four pomodoros is also designed to help you combat fatigue at your station.
Adapting the Pomodoro Technique to Fit Your Needs
I like the principles behind the Pomodoro Technique because you know that you will be focused on one task at a time. You are more likely to do it well because you aren’t distracted by other things. Setting a timer can help alert you to when your task time is up. I also set a timer for my break because if I choose Facebook as my break, it’s easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole from whence there is no return. Having the timer set for five minutes reminds me that it’s time to move on.
Another strategy is to combine the Pomodoro Technique with the 80/20 rule. When I start my pomodoros for the day, I begin with the tasks that are most important. That way, I am freshest and most focused on the actions that matter most.
Usually, at the end of my first set of four pomodoros, I use the time to meditate for 20 minutes or so. I find that meditation refreshes me and prepares me for the next round of four pomodoros.
Of course, you can tweak this strategy in a way that works for you. I know some people who work better in 20-minute stretches, and others that work solid for 30 minutes before taking a break. Set your timer for whatever time amount works for you. Still another adaptation is to simply work until your task is done, and then take an appropriate break before launching into the next task.
However you decide to do it, the theory is the same: Dedicate time to your task, and then take a break after a set period of time. Don’t get distracted by social media, TV or even other work. By focusing on one thing at a time, and taking strategic breaks, you might be surprised at how much more you can accomplish.