A few weeks back I wrote about Managing To Do Lists, and to complement the management of my own To Do List, I am also using the Pomodoro® Technique, and I feel that am getting a lot more done. It may actually just be all in the mind! but, seriously I do find that having several projects on the go at any one time, along with the tasks that come with running a business I sometimes struggle to get focused and find that endless To-Do Lists can end up hindering rather than helping my progress. One of my goals for the New Year was to get more organised and increase productivity in my workdays, so after a cyber search, I came across the Pomodoro® Technique.
For those who don’t know the Pomodoro® Technique is a time management tool that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s to help him focus on studying. Using a Pomodoro (tomato-shaped) timer, Francesco devised a system of allocating work to 25-minute segments using the timer, with a 5-minute break between each and taking a longer half an hour or so break after you have completed 4 or 5 segments. The idea is that by taking breaks as you work, you refresh your mind and increase mental agility (Note: you do not have to use a tomato shaped-timer, any timer, apps, and stopwatches that count downtime will do)
One of my concerns as a ‘creative person’ using the Technique was that the frequent breaks would interrupt my flow if I was in ‘the zone’ – you know how it is, so engrossed in work that by the time you come up for air you realise that what felt like minutes was actually hours – but I found that as the breaks are fairly short, as long as I don’t get distracted with something else during that time I can quickly pick up from where I left off.
So far I feel that using the Pomodoro® Technique is definitely helping to focus my thoughts and I am noticing I feel more relaxed when tackling a task and moving on the next one. Also instead of trying to beat the timer by rushing through a set task, I have personally found it more effective to let the task spread over several 25-minute segments if need be, especially when writing articles or blog posts that require more research. Overall this approach has led to increased productivity in my workdays. The Promodoro® Technique is great for working your way through dreaded admin, as it helps to overcome the tendency for wandering minds. And, to get super efficient (– I’m not there yet!) there is the Pomello app that turns your Trello cards into Pomodoro® tasks.
You can adjust the time of the segments to suit what feels natural to you, some people find 90 minutes works for them or a bit less. Since using the Pomodoro® Technique I have gotten into my own rhythm and have found that 45 minutes with a five or ten-minute break works best for me and that my body clock has adjusted to the pattern in that I now find myself automatically stopping after 45 mins without the aid of a timer.
Have you tried the Pomodoro® Technique, does it work for you, if not what techniques do you use to help you get focused and increase productivity? Do share in the comments.