Last week we talked about beating perfectionism and getting one thing done a day. How are you going with that?
In that post, I mentioned the Pomodoro Technique as a useful tool to help you and today I’ll fill you in on what it is and how you can use it.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
It was invented in the late 80’s by Franceso Cirillo, although people have likely been using a system like this for centuries.
How do you use it?
One of my favourite things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it is so simple. Here’s what you do:
- Decide on one task you will work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (you can make this anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes to suit the way you work but 25 suits most people.)
- Work on your chosen task (and only your chosen task) until the timer goes off.
- If you are interrupted, deal with it quickly and get back on task.
- When the timer goes off, record your pomodoro (a check mark on a post-it note is fine) and take a quick 5 minute break.
- Do the process all over again.
- Once you have done 3 or 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of 20 – 30 minutes.
That’s it! Easy but really effective. If you want more rules for the pomodoro technique, you can find some via the link. (You don’t really need them though!)
Why should you bother?
I call the Pomodoro technique my secret weapon for beating procrastination and getting things done – because it really helps me do that. Once the timer is ticking, I settle down and focus on the task at hand. And for really boring tasks, it’s the only thing that helps me to start. (It was a life saver when I was marking University assignments.)
It also helps me manage my energy better by forcing me to take small, regular breaks. When I am focused I can tend to push myself past the point where I should stop and give myself a break. Anyone one else guilty?
And it’s great for dealing with interruptions. If my husband comes into my home office, all I need to say is “I’m on a Pomodoro” and he knows I will check in with him once I’m done. It’s kind of working with the kids too!
Here’s a couple more hints from me
- My rule for myself is: Once I’m on a pomodoro, I can only work on the focus of the pomodoro. I can do nothing if I choose, but I can’t do anything else. This stops the social media/email procrastination cycle.
- I make sure I get out of my seat and away from the screen on breaks. Short housework tasks, getting a tea and snack, checking the snail mail, having a short wander in the garden are all good break activities.
- Sometimes I set the timer for a shorter time period if I know the task won’t take 25 minutes.
Why is it called Pomodoro Technique?
Pomodoro means ‘tomato’ in Italian. Apparently when Cirillo was first experimenting with this technique he used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. A tomato timer is not obligatory however!
Try out the Pomodoro Technique this week. Do a session of 3 – 4 pomodoros. Stick to the rules and see how it works for you. Let me know how it goes in the comments.
This is a really simple technique, and you don’t need anything to implement it, but there are all sorts of resources out there you can use if you want.
- Use the timer on your phone
- Apps: If you search ‘pomodoro technique’ in your relevant app market, you will find apps you can use, lots of them for free. Pick one and try it out, but try to keep it simple. I like Pomodroido for Android.
- There is an extension for the Chrome Browser called Stay Focusd which is very useful. It also allows you to block distracting websites.
Join the conversation
Do you use or have you tried the Pomodoro Technique? What are your best tips to make it work for you? We’d also love to hear about your favourite apps or tools. Share with us all in the comments.
Image used under Creative Commons license courtesy of Jussi Linkola