Do the Pomodoro Technique to get things done

I have mentioned the Pomodoro Technique before to a few colleagues, but it’s a really useful tool to help you focus and get some good work done. I met some folks recently don’t know what it is, so let me tell you more about it.

The Pomodoro Technique is a tool that…

  • enhances your focus and concentration
  • increases your awareness of your decisions
  • boosts your motivation
  • helps you beat procrastination
  • improves your productivity

It’s incredibly useful for getting tasks or projects started if you struggle with overwhelm and oh-my-god-where-do-I-start problems.

The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo during his first year of university. He was always getting distracted and not using his time efficiently to revise. So he got hold of a tomato-shaped kitchen timer and worked for 10 minutes non-stop, and without distractions. It forced him to focus for a short period of time before rewarding himself with a break. After a bit of tweaking, Francesco decided on a structured method for the Pomodoro Technique (Italian for ‘tomato’ and the name of the original kitchen timer in the US).

How do you use it? 

Francesco’s improved method is all about managing tasks in 25-minute intervals. You’ll need is a timer for this technique to work. There are numerous apps you can use or just switch on your phone timer.

Here are the steps:

  • Identify your task or some part of a project you need to get done
  • Set your Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes
  • Work and focus on the task until the Pomodoro is complete, no distractions, no breaks, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Google+ (Whooo?)
  • Take a 5-minute break, go for a wander, have a “comfort break”, meditate, check emails, social media etc. This helps you disconnect from your work
  • Start another Pomodoro. Rinse and repeat.
  • For every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break for 15-30 minutes. This is your reward so do something you really enjoy so get away from your Mac, PC, tablet and phone!

By completing each Pomodoro, you will feel more productive almost immediately. The satisfaction you’ll feel will give you the warm and fuzzies and the impetus to do more.

I like to see how well I am doing when I am working, so I record progress as I go along. You do this easily in your notepad or in your favourite note-taking app:

To do today
No of Pomodoros
Complete?
Write article on the Pomodoro Technique
X X X X
Yes
Write copy for client’s website pages
X
Yes
Proofread Will’s book
X X
Plan newsletter content
X

It works because 25 minutes in your day is a short amount of time to work towards completing a task. Only 25 minutes is no big challenge to start in the first place. When you complete a Pomodoro, you’ll feel more productive and much happier. Doing more Pomodoros will help you get more work done throughout your day. It’s really that simple.

The main idea behind the Pomodoro Technique is ‘time-boxing’. A simple concept where you ringfence your attention for small amounts of time and allow yourself to mentally recharge after each 25 minutes of work. It helps cut down interruptions and enhances your focus and concentration. Completing small chunks of work builds momentum and the feeling of being more productive means you’ll get more things done.

Go on, do yourself a big favour and start at least one of these and let me know how you get on!

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