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Pop quiz. Which of these do you agree with?
- I would love to get more done in less time.
- I would love to stop procrastinating.
- I would love to feel more focused.
- I would love to stop feeling overwhelmed about my to-do list.
- I can easily learn this technique (I will answer this for you: YES you can!)
If you agree with one or all of these statements then you will love the Pomodoro technique.
I first learned about the Pomodoro technique while listening to a podcast. The person being interviewed was talking about how life-changing this technique has been for them. And, I was skeptical, but I soon found that it really does work!
The Pomodoro Technique for Getting Things Done
Pomodoro sounds pretty fancy, but it really just means “tomato” in Italian. Yep, a tomato. This technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s for which he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to break down work into intervals (source).
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique where you break down all of your tasks into 25 minute focused blocks of time. By doing this you will get more done in less time, will improve your mental sharpness, and will see better results.
The materials you will need:
- Pen & Paper
- Timer (you can use your watch, cell phone, or grab a cute mechanical timer here)
Note: The creator of this technique encourages the use of a mechanical timer. Cirillo indicates that the physical act of winding the timer confirms the user’s determination to start the task; ticking externalizes desire to complete the task, and ringing announces a break. Flow and focus become associated with these physical stimuli (source).
How to get started with Pomodoro, in six steps:
- Choose a task you’d like to get done.
- Set the Pomodoro for 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
- Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings.
- When the Pomodoro rings, put a checkmark on a paper.
- Take a short break (3-5 minutes). Go for a walk, breathe, relax.
- Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (20 to 30 minutes). Then start back at step 1.
A few tips:
- After setting the timer focus only on the task at hand. This means no distractions or interruptions. I usually will turn my phone off or at least have it out of view so that I’m not tempted by notifications. Also, if you think of something that you need to work on later, just write it down on a piece of paper and then get back to work.
- During the breaks make sure you’re not doing anything work-related. Step away from whatever you’re doing and take an actual break.
- The hardest part for me is taking the long break after the four Pomodoros. But, according to the creator of the technique, your brain will use this time to assimilate new information and rest before the next round of Pomodoros.
Free Pomodoro Task Tracker:
Subscribe to Tons of Goodness below to gain access to the Resource Library password. The Resource Library includes a PDF version of this Free Pomodoro Task Tracker!
Why the Pomodoro Technique Works
It’s very simple.
All you need is some way to track time, a pen, and a piece of paper. I even use this method with my daughter who is in kindergarten to get homework done, to clean her room, etc.
Breakthrough the overwhelm.
Since the Pomodoro technique breaks up tasks into 25-minute blocks, the tasks seem much less overwhelming and far more manageable.
Avoid the perfectionism trap.
Another benefit that I have found is that it helps me with my tendency to wanting to work on something until it’s “perfect”. I decide ahead of time how many Pomodoro’s I will use for a task and stick to it.
Done is better than perfect.
A positive way to view time.
How many times a week of a day do you say, “I wish I had more time”? Well, by using the Pomodoro technique you can see exactly how you use your time. You will find that you have more time to spare since you are being more productive. And you can be proud of the amount of work you’ve completed by seeing all of those checkmarks!
I think that it makes time seem more positive because every Pomodoro represents an opportunity to get something done or to improve something.
Frequent breaks help you to focus and stay motivated.
Another reason why this time management technique works so well is that it allows for frequent breaks. You know that after 25 minutes of focused work you will be getting a short break. And after four Pomodoro’s you will get a 25 to 30-minute break.
By doing this I am able to ignore distractions, stay focused, and stay motivated.
Interested in learning more about motivation? Check out this post:
What Kind of Tasks Can You Use the Pomodoro Technique For?
What I love about this time management technique is that you can use it for so many situations. For example, tasks that I have used the Pomodoro technique for include:
- Cleaning the house in less time
- Writing research papers
- Creating products
- Writing blog posts
- Creating meal plans
- Paying bills
- Working out
- Online shopping
As you can see, this method can work for any situation. It’s also great to teach your kids. My daughter, who is 6 is able to use the concept when we’re working on homework or cleaning her room (two things she really doesn’t like to do).
Try the Pomodoro Technique and let me know how it goes!