If ever you are in need to get your mind in gear to work productively the Pomodoro Technique is your savior. Seriously, the pomodoro technique works really well and fast too. You know how they say that most productivity tips are things you have to practice basically day and night to make them work. This one is simple even kids can do it. Personally I started using the pomodoro technique in college to help me get through some of the most boring classes I had to study for. Literally the technique saved my hiney so let me explain the pomodoro technique to you so you too can help your brain focus on days it really doesn’t want to!
- What Is The Pomodoro Technique
- The Pomodoro Technique Benefits
- Who Can Benefit From The Pomodoro Technique
- How To Use The Pomodoro Technique
- Optimizations I Made To The Pomodoro Technique For Myself
- Why Does The Pomodoro Technique Work?
What Is The Pomodoro Technique
The pomodoro technique is a time management system. It makes sure that instead of trying to focus on something all day you start breaking it apart into chunks of time where you focus exclusively on the task at hand.
Many people confuse it with a focusing technique. Let me state it super clearly here: It is not a focusing technique. The focus comes from accurately managing your time by limiting distractions as you know you only have a set amount of time to work on your task.
The technique is one of the embodiments of working smarter not harder. It’s all about making you more efficient while also being more productive. It may seem that those two come hand in hand but no. For a lot of us productivity trumps efficiency, which is wrong by the way.
By learning how to manage your time accurately and with precision you will slowly but very steadily be learning how to manage your time better in general. Learning how to manage your time better is of course a massive productivity win. It’ll enable you to start getting more things done in less time as you will know better how long things take but more about the benefits of the pomodoro technique later.
Where did the pomodoro technique come from
The pomodoro technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo, who also owns a consulting firm in Germany. He founded the technique in the 1980’s as he wanted to find a way to get more done in less time thus upping his productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique Benefits
The benefits of using the pomodoro technique are:
- No more focusing fatigue
When you try to make yourself focus for a long period of time you can get fatigued and exhausted. In this day and age it is also notoriously hard to stay focused all day with everything that is going on and that we might have to remember to do. I mean our to-do lists seem to get longer and longer. Also with all the phone beeps, focusing becomes a mess. However when using the Pomodoro technique you will be obligating yourself to work on one task and one task alone all the other ones will get their time when it comes thus shortening what you need to focus on.
- No distractions
It becomes really simple to not jump up every time your phone beeps or buzzes as you know exactly how much time you have until your next break where you can handle your distractions without the guilt. You know exactly what guilt I am talking about. The one where you are so curious to see what person X had to say in the app or email that you decide 1 minute of looking won’t hurt but then end up hours later on a page of a person you don’t even personally know! All this while feeling super guilty that your one minute of distraction has turned into many minutes of unproductive hours.
- Task Preparation
Since you are working in chunks of time you need to decide what it is you want to get done in your designated time. So no more planning ‘’writing 5 blog posts’’ or ‘’cleaning the house’’. It needs to be ‘’Clean the living room’’ or ‘’Or write the first three paragraphs’’. By being specific you also help yourself focus on what it is you need to do which will help you stay focused.
- Know How long things Take
As soon as you start actively using the pomodoro technique you will get to see how much time finishing a task will have taken you as you can add together your chunks of time. Knowing how long something takes you can help you in the future when trying to plan your day. Specifically, it’ll help you curb overplanning, the realization of how exactly you spend twenty-four hours will come running towards you when learning how to use the pomodoro technique appropriately.
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- Curb Stalling
There are reasons why the chunks are 25 minutes long. It is to curb stalling. We all know our minds love to wander and get distracted even without our most helpful distraction (it is your phone and all the social media apps by the way!). It is said that 25 minutes is the perfect timeframe for you to feel the right kind of urgency in finishing your set task. The right kind of urgency without the added stress that you won’t finish on time thus having you feel rushed.
This urgency translates itself to productivity because you have a minute or two for your mind to wander about but that is also about it else you won’t finish on time.
Another way it curbs stalling is by making you realize that you only have to work on the task for one pomodoro thus not the entire day. One pomodoro sounds a whole lot better than having to work on something for hours without end. Dragging your feet seems way more appealing but ultimately very stressful in the latter situation. While in the first it’s more of ‘’okay, I can do 25 minutes’’. Convincing yourself to get started is easier that way as there is a set beginning and end to your perceived ‘’misery’’.
- Working more efficient
When you curb stalling and procrastination you automatically become more productive because really what is left? Working on the task at hand. Now let it be that that is exactly what you want the pomodoro technique to help you with. Getting things done and crossed off your seemingly ever growing to-do list.
- Insanely motivating
Seeing yourself getting things done and not just in a matter of half-half calling it done but diligently done is insanely motivating to keep going. Even for the pomodoro technique being a time-management technique it is also a motivational technique. It motivates you to set tasks and complete them not just any hour but within one pomodoro.
- You learn structure and discipline
A massive side benefit that you indirectly learn from using the pomodoro technique is structure and discipline. You learn structure because you are required to follow a set cycle that you are not supposed to break. Once you start you also don’t want to break it either, believe me. Not breaking the cycle is also a form of discipline because you can just as easily decide on only doing two pomodoros for example.
Another way you learn discipline is because you stop giving in to all distractions. You indirectly learn that finishing what you are doing is more important than stopping for everything that comes up that asks for your attention. You might think that this is limited to the pomodoro’s but once you start using the pomodoro technique for a longer period of time this effect has every potential to spill over in other areas of your life. Potentially every beep your phone makes might not seem as urgent as you were previously conditioned for it to be.
- Naturally increase your attention span
Our modern day society setup has caused our attention span to significantly decrease over the years. However when you integrate the pomodoro technique in your life your attention span will start to grow naturally because your brain will learn that it needs to be able to focus for the amount of time a pomodoro takes.
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Who Can Benefit From The Pomodoro Technique
How Students Can Benefit
I started using the pomodoro technique in college and let me tell you it worked great. As a student it helped me get through studying for all my boring classes.
Using the pomodoro technique as a student can help you schedule and regulate all the seemingly never ending tasks each class has. Let’s be honest, it’s just you and me here, every professor kind of thought that their class was the only one we had, right? Or was that just my experience? Well either way with the pomodoro technique you can schedule pomodoro’s for each task you need to do. For example: Research for a paper; 1 pomodoro. Reading a chapter in preparation for a class: 1 pomodoro and the list can continue on for every college task you have really.
Also if you are pulling all nighters which you in theory shouldn’t be, but we’ll talk about that another time, you can easily schedule your pomodoro’s for that too. Actually when you learn to properly use the pomodoro technique you will become more efficient which will hopefully make all nighters redundant.
How 9 to 5ers Can Benefit
If you are working in a corporate world where sitting at your desk is basically mandatory because of your type of job then the pomodoro technique is perfect to get you moving around more. The included breaks in the technique are perfect for a brief moment of light movement in order to not become completely stiff.
Another thing the pomodoro technique is perfect for in office environments is making sure you don’t get lost in a task. Having worked in an office environment I can tell you first hand that the inbox is a great source of useful information but also a hazardous place. Especially when emailing people that are on their email all day. I mean it is great to get a response quickly but when does it end honestly? Cleaning up your inbox that way could be a task of days.
The last way the pomodoro technique can make working in an office more productive is by controlling the meeting times. Yes it might seem weird to have to time a meeting, but it is super helpful. There are always a million ways to get sidetracked when in a meeting no matter how well prepared everyone is. When there is a set time for the meeting that everyone knows can’t run late as people have other pomodoro’s to start you can create a culture of meaningful meetings where the things discussed are actually what you called the meeting for.
This combined with clearly outlining exactly what needs discussing during the meeting can be a real game changer in the zillion meetings a day life.
At Home Organizing
This might be all of us but I find using the pomodoro technique at home for organizing purposes super useful. These are tasks that many people don’t like doing but still need to get done, such as the dishes, cleaning, tidying or ironing. With the set timeframe of how long you need to do the unwanted task for doing it and getting it done become so much easier.
Even when I am not using full pomodoro’s for the tasks I am still doing them timed as a productive distraction during my breaks
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How To Use The Pomodoro Technique
The pomodoro technique is super simple to use. It has six steps to follow of which I basically already mentioned all of them. Before I tell you the six steps of the pomodoro technique let me explain to you what a pomodoro is.
Officially pomodoro means tomato in italian that’s why the pomodoro timer is shaped like one. Within the pomodoro technique 1 pomodoro equals a timeblock of 25 minutes.
1 Pomodoro = 25 minutes
You’re supposed to do 1 pomodoro and then one 5 minute break and then repeat this four times. After four pomodoro’s you take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes so your brain can fully decompress from having worked so diligently.
The 6 Steps Of The Pomodoro Technique
Step 1. Determine your task
Of course you can’t get started with your pomodoro before you know exactly what task you want to work on. You need to make sure that this is a task that you can end in a reasonable manner. Being vague on the task determination is a now go. A good example of a well determined task is ‘’Organize my inbox’’ or ‘’Answer all unanswered emails’’.
Step 2. Set & start your pomodoro timer
You have to set your pomodoro timer for 25 minutes. Now of course you don’t need the official pomodoro timer, even though I must admit it does look cool. You can of course just use the timer on your phone for this as I have been doing for literal years. You can also use a kitchen timer. Whatever timer you have that can let you know when 25 minutes have passed will work honestly.
Step 3. Work On your Task
For as long as the timer is running work on the task that you decided to work on. When the timer goes off you stop, but before that all that you need to do is make sure you get your task done.
Step 4. Acknowledge getting things done
Once the timer alerts you to 25 minutes having passed, you cross off your task from your to-do list. Of course this is highly dependent on if you actually got the task done or not and whether you actually made a to-list. I do hope you did on both accounts.
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Step 5. Rest for five minutes
Between each pomodoro you rest for five minutes. During this time you can do whatever you like except trying to get a headstart on the next task! These five minute breaks are perfect for some light chair exercises, going to the bathroom or answering some messages. Basically use this time to disengage your mind from what you were doing previously to allow it to rest from being so focused and productive because of using the pomodoro technique.
Step 6. Long 20 to 30 minute break
Once you have gone through the above circle four times thus having done four pomodoros (4 times 25 minutes) you take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes. Basically after every 2 hours a long break comes.
Repeat these steps all through your (work) day and you will start having the most productive days. Really the pomodoro technique works. A realization you need to have is that in total when you have completed one pomodoro cycle (thus all six steps) you’ve been working productively for 100 minutes quasi consecutively! So when you first couldn’t bring yourself to even get 1 minute done you now have gotten a 100 minutes (one hour and forty minutes) done. Amazing!
Optimizations I Made To The Pomodoro Technique For Myself
Of course the pomodoro technique works really well in the manner that Francesco Cirillo has set it up. I mean it has been a staple in the time management theories for years so it has earned its merit. However, for me personally there are days where I struggle with the 25 minutes and I need to be a little kinder to myself.
On those days I do 20 and 25 minutes pomodoros. I start with the regular pomodoro but then the next one is a ‘’short’’ pomodoro of 20 minutes followed by a 10 minute break instead of a 5 minute break. I keep alternating like that until I complete my day.
I still do four pomodoro’s but just two of them are 20 minutes. After the four pomodoro’s I still give myself a big break of 20 to 30 minutes, so nothing has changed there. Literally the only thing that I have changed is the time of a pomodoro.
In total after one pomodoro cycle I will have been productively working for 90 minutes which is still impressive!
Why Does The Pomodoro Technique Work?
Honestly I think it has to do with the simplicity of it all. Literally the only thing you need is a timer, which most of us have on our phone. Once the timer is set you’re immediately ready to start working.
The technique is super easy to understand even when you don’t want to dive into all of the benefits and nitty gritty details of it. That is also something that is the case while learning how to apply time management techniques. The why of the technique is sometimes incredibly important with understanding how to apply the technique. With the pomodoro technique that is not the case at all. I could’ve made this post one paragraph long:
‘’How to use the pomodoro technique: decide on a task you want to work on then set your timer for 25 minutes. While the timer runs, work on the task, once the timer runs out take a five minute break. Repeat this four times. After the fourth time take a 20 to 30 minute break and afterwards start again from the beginning.’’
Boom done, you now know how to use the pomodoro technique.
The other reason the technique really works well is because of the longevity of the chunk of time. There are so many other time management techniques that have longer time frames and can perfectly justify them but there’s something about the 25 minutes that feeling wise is just right. It’s not too long to get bored or distracted and not too short to not be able to get something actually done.
The last reason why I think the pomodoro technique really works is because of the set breaks. When you know you get to disengage from a super important task and still be able to finish it, it just makes you feel more calm and able to enjoy the breaks. This goes along with the fact that the breaks are just long enough for your mind to disengage but not lose focus. You can immediately hop back into it without having that feeling of having to figure out where exactly you left off, which can often be the case with unstructured breaks.
Time your way to finishing your to-do list happily and easily with the Pomodoro Technique.
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