Are you a master of time management, or do you find your to-do lists overwhelmingly unrealistic?
If you’re honestly trying to be more productive and time-efficient, but you find that distractions are hard to resist to and you cannot seem to focus for more than 15 minutes straight, no matter the task, you’re probably frustrated and overwhelmed.
Does this sound familiar? If so, then you should try the Pomodoro technique. It’s a unique time management technique that boosts your productivity and makes task completion fun and rewarding.
Pomodoro is a straightforward time management technique that’s free and doesn’t require any fancy equipment or investment. In fact, you can start practicing the Pomodoro technique right now.
But first, let’s see what it entails.
Essentially, you need a kitchen timer set to 25 minutes. You’ll use the timer to create a time period – a “Pomodoro” – during which you focus your entire attention to the task designated. It’s that simple!
However, six parameters need to be in place for you to become a true Pomodoro technique master. These six objectives need to be mastered one by one. You shouldn’t jump onto the next without fully mastering the previous, to ensure best results.
Decide on the task you’re going to Pomodoro. How many 25-minute chunks do you need? Plan this according to the effort it will take, the complexity of the task, and your own productivity on any given day. These will help you make a good estimation of the time involved.
Protect your Pomodoro
Know your enemies. Is it Facebook? Your parents calling for the 7th time this morning? Protect your Pomodoro from these distractions!
Pomodorize your activity
How many Pomodoros are needed for a specific task? 2 Pomodoros? Half a Pomodoro? Examine your task and estimate the time it will take to complete it. The more specific you can be, the better.
Recapitulate and Review
Ensure you don’t spend your Pomodoro(s) all on doing the task itself. It’s also important to allow time for recapitulation of the task and reviewing what you’ve done to make sure each goal is met and each project completed in its entirety.
Create your to-do timetable
Plan a timetable according to your to-do list, or whatever other method you find most useful (for example, an hourly schedule). Just remember that when you’re making a chart or list, you need to make it a Pomodoro-based timetable with the exact Pomodoro number for each task. If you’ve made sure to allot enough Pomodoros to each task, you will be fine.
Set a personal goal
What’s your ultimate goal with any given task? Preparing a top-notch report? Finishing your dissertation before June 25th? It doesn’t matter what your objective is as long as it’s a personal one aiming at helping you become a better, more efficient or skillful person.
The Pomodoro technique was developed back in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo as a way to achieve better time management. The defining characteristic of the Pomodoro technique is the many brain breaks you take between tasks.
For each Pomodoro completed, you need to take a 5-minute break. For every 4 Pomodoros (100 mins) you need to take a 15- to 20-minute break.
The idea is that the more brain breaks you take, the more motivated and focused you will be at a given task.
A break triggers your mind to rest and come back more resilient and effective.
The brief focus on a task completely unrelated to a project (you can wash the dishes for your five-minute break, for example) and this change in focus helps you return to a project with a clear mind and a can-do attitude.
How does it improve time management?
The Pomodoro technique keeps you focused and ensures you don’t linger on unrelated distractions. It allows you to work at the most efficient pace possible.
Having a timer next to you provides a subconscious sense of urgency, encouraging you to get focused.
In addition, you become accountable. Since every task is quantified according to how many Pomodoros it takes, you are forced to stick to your schedule, something that also boosts your productivity and efficiency.
By learning to respect work flow you’ll manage to accomplish more in less time without necessarily damaging the outcome. Try it!