I came across this recently.. You may have heard of it already – The Pomodoro Technique? The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that can be used in any context or for any tasks – but you don’t want to use the method for what you would do in your free time.
I like this because its the opposite of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is something that creatives have long been bucking against; however, productivity research has made a strong case that multi-tasking is ineffective for most people.
The ticking clock anxiety that you feel especially when a deadline is involved is nothing new. I am taken back to cram sessions in college, laptops on my lap at bedtime, and skipped lunch breaks in my office.
“The aim of the Pomodoro Technique is to use time as a valuable ally in accomplishing what we want to do in the way we want to do it, and to enable us to continually improve the way we work or study.” [pomodorotechnique.com]
I found the following information from a cheat sheet provided by pomodorotechnique.com:
Step 1: Start the Day with a Plan
You need to maintain an Activity Inventory where you list and estimate your tasks. Estimations are expressed in number of pomodoros – more on that in a moment. (max 7 pomodoros per task)
Each new day you select a number of tasks and write them on your daily To Do Sheet. That’s your commitment for today.
Step 2: Tracking and Executing Pomodoros
Choose a task to complete and start a Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes, then focus on finishing that task. Again, until that timer rings or buzzes… focus on the task! Don’t start other tasks or take interruptions or breaks.
Distractions are the most important thing to avoid if at all possible. Wait to look at the text message, don’t “jump on the Internet to check something out real quick” and you can wait to go to the bathroom!
If you finish the task before the timer rings, continue reviewing the task, and draw a line through the task on your sheet when the Pomodoro rings.
Step 3: Reward Yourself
After you’ve completed a pomodoro – take a 3 to 5 minute break before you begin the next pomodoro. After you’ve completed 4 or 5 pomodoros, then take a longer break such as 15-30 minutes.
Step 4: Recording (for nerds like me)
Recording is about listing your daily observations such as the number of pomodoros that you’ve completed that day. You can also record the number of interruptions, distractions and voided pomodoros.
1. Once a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring or it becomes a VOIDED POMODORO!
2. If a task takes more than 5–7 Pomodoros, break it down.
3. If the task takes less than one pomodoro, add it up, and combine it with another task.
4. The next pomodoro will go better.
So here’s what I’m going to do as I try this system out for myself.. I am going to experiment with a day of pomodoros. Because a lot of what I do is outside of my office and I am not as administrative and glued to my desk as others may be, I will use my administration day as the beta test for this method as it pertains to me.
I will set a goal on my first day of accomplishing 4 pomodoros in the morning and 5 pomodoros in the afternoon.
Does this sound like something that you’d benefit from trying? How will you experiment with this technique as it applies to your work day and productivity?