The Pomodoro Technique A Time-Tested Method for Maximizing Efficiency
Time is passing by rapidly. I can hear the metronomic ticking of my “focus keeper” app.
Despite the topic of this essay being how to become more productive, I’ve been trying to find reasons not to write it.
My problem isn’t that I can’t concentrate. For many years, my studio has been open to the public (and hip advertising offices with little to no privacy before). For the past five years, I’ve worked as a contractor, and sometimes that means doing my job just feet away from three very noisy kids.
My issue isn’t with being able to concentrate.
When compared to finishing a number of less important but still important tasks, I find it much more difficult to complete a single large project.
The process of researching and creating the Wit & Delight line of productivity tools and planners (now available!) is what introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique. I don’t know what you guys talk about in your office, but we’re always trading tips and tricks for getting stuff done faster and better.
I discovered the Pomodoro Technique after looking into methods for getting more done in less time. Having a rudimentary understanding of Italian, I found the idea that eating a tomato would help me concentrate and get more done very intriguing.
Neither a fad diet nor an attempt to harness the power of lutein, the Pomodoro Technique gets its name from Francesco Cirillo’s tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
It’s just like time blocking, but with a catchier moniker. Start the timer and devote all of your attention to the task at hand for the next 25 minutes. There will be no juggling of tasks. There won’t be a latte break. Keep your Instagram scrolling to a minimum. Focus on that one thing and nothing else.
Just what does it mean in practical terms? It’s just like time blocking, but with a catchier moniker. Start the timer and devote all of your attention to the task at hand for the next 25 minutes. There will be no juggling of tasks. There won’t be a latte break. Keep your Instagram scrolling to a minimum. Focus on that one thing and nothing else.
After twenty-five minutes of undivided attention, you’ll be allowed a brief respite of five minutes. Scroll, message, and brew another pot of coffee; you’ll need it because the clock will strike five soon.
OK, that settles it.
Really, this should be obvious.
I under-estimated how challenging it would be. Being someone who routinely multitasks, I found it difficult to devote my full attention to a single activity. My thoughts kept wandering, and soon I had a whole new list of things to do. When I was supposed to be working on a more pressing task, I’d get sidetracked by something less important and waste time doing it. After years of multitasking, rushing through assignments, and getting things done RIGHT NOW, I had to retrain my thinking to fully focus on one main task in each sitting using this method.
Specifically, here is how I use the Pomodoro Technique:
First thing in the morning, I sit down with a blank sheet of paper and write out my daily tasks (no clock required!). Then, I put the items on my list in order of importance over time. Because I know I get the most done first thing in the morning, I save the easier tasks, like answering emails or reviewing analytics, for later in the day when I have more mental energy.
Following the activation of my SAD light and the consumption of my morning java, I immediately begin the first two 25-minute segments. This is how it might appear:
- Section of 25 minutes devoted to creating contentCoffee break (five-minute)
- Time allotment of 25 minutes: project management
- Coffee and texting break (five minutes)
- Account Management Time Slot (25 minutes)
- Restroom break (five minute)
This routine of focusing until the ding and then rewarding myself with five minutes of Instagram scrolling or texting while feeling no remorse for not finishing a task continues.
It takes some practise to get used to this method if you’re a multitasker (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?). In order to avoid distractions, I’ve found that turning off notifications and putting my phone in a drawer works well. Naturally, this strategy might not be well suited for all professional contexts, such as customer service (e.g., “I’m on my 5-minute break, I’ll be with you in a sec.”) or meetings (e.g., “Sorry client, the timer went off, I’m going to put you on mute so I can select the perfect GIF for this group text.
To get more done in the same amount of time without feeling as worn out at the end of the day, I’ve been using the Pomodoro Technique.
Tell me about your experience, if any, with this method, or share your secret for maintaining concentration.