Who isn’t familiar with the daily struggle to tick off tasks on a never-ending to-do-list? Not every item on the list is equally fascinating, so it is sometimes hard to stay on task. Add to that the myriad distractions in modern workplaces: Colleagues stopping by for a chat, customers phoning at awkward moments, emails popping up on screen and a constant stream of social media updates all vying for attention. Before you know it, half an hour has passed by with precious little to show for it. But how can you push back against the distractions? The answer can be found in the Pomodoro Technique. It helps you to manage your time more effectively and approach work in a more focused and productive way.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a special time management method for structuring your working time more effectively. The goal is to train your brain to work in short but highly focused bursts. The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980s by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo. The basic principle of the system is simple. A timer or alarm clock is set to go off at 25-minute intervals with a break of five minutes in between. For this purpose, Francesco Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, called Pomodoro in Italian, which is where the name Pomodoro Technique comes from.
How the Pomodoro Technique works
First write a list of everything you have to do in order of importance. Which tasks are urgent and which are merely important? Then write down the estimated time you require to complete each task. If you have lots of smaller tasks you can collect them together in a single 25-minute block, also called a Pomodoro. If a task requires longer, you can devote multiple blocks to it.
To start the Pomodoro Technique, set the timer for 25 minutes and work steadily on the set tasks. As soon as the timer rings, take a five-minute break. Here, it is important that you don’t continue with the task but allow your thoughts to focus on something else, step outside for a breath of fresh air or make yourself a cup of tea. You should then reset the timer to 25 minutes and go back to work.
After four 25-minute blocks, the Pomodoro Technique stipulates you should take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. If you haven’t been able to finish a task within the last timed interval, you can carry it over into the next Pomodoro. If you have an idea about something else while you are working, you should write it down for later. This stops you forgetting the idea but allows you to stay focused on your current task. When a task is completed, you can cross it off the to-do list and savour the feeling of accomplishment.
How does the Pomodoro Technique help?
The idea behind the Pomodoro Technique is that short breaks improve mental agility. They help you to concentrate and remain focused on the task in hand as well as reducing interruptions from things like calls, emails and social media. By working in short bursts, the Pomodoro Technique helps you to concentrate on what is important. That really helps when you want to clear your desk of unpopular tasks.