What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The idea behind the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s an easy, fun way to manage your time effectively. It’s called Pomodoro after the Italian word for tomato, as in those tomato shaped kitchen timers; this is what the guy who popularised the technique (Francesco Cirillo) used when he first tried it out.
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way of boxing off time to work on a particular task. You decide what to work on, set a timer for 25 minutes (this is 1 Pomodoro) and work on that task until the timer goes off, at which point you take a 5 minute break. You repeat this as many times as you need to, with a 15 – 30 minute break after 4 repeats.
I tried out this approach for a week as I wanted to find a straightforward way of structuring my time, particularly for writing and for tasks I tend to put off doing. Here’s what I learned from it:
- The time flew by. In fact I was surprised by just how quickly it passed, even for boring tasks. Dull tasks usually seem to stretch out ahead, but confining them to one 25 minute window makes them look less daunting.
- The 5 minute break caused me to pause and reflect on where I was and what I needed to do next, which was more mindful than just working down a list. This resulted in focussing on my priorities instead of on what looked the most appealing to do.
- At the end of each Pomodoro I wanted to keep working, so this built up momentum; I was eager to get back to work after each break. Even if it was something difficult I still wanted to get back to it, and I think this was because the break gave me time to step back from it and shift my perspective.
- As I set myself only one 25 minute chunk to work on some things I was determined to focus and avoid distractions – and I did. I treated the time as something precious and protected it. Not even my attention seeking cat visiting me or an intriguing looking parcel landing on the doormat could distract me. If it was a parcel of yarn that would distract me, but I’m not made of steel, I have my weaknesses.
- It helped me to resist multitasking as I was more focussed, and the 5 minute break after 25 minutes acted as a buffer for switching from one task to the next.
- Some things took longer than I thought. Like most people I’m an optimist where time management comes in. As I planned out my Pomodoros before working through them this ended up being useful data that I was able to learn from, so I now have a clear idea of how long regular tasks like writing a blog post or scheduling to social media actually take, rather than how long I assumed they take.
Would I reccommend the Pomodoro Technique?
No surprises here – yes, I would. I like that it’s a simple way to chunk down my day, work consistently, maintain motivation and focus. I love how straightforward it is: There’s no complicated system to follow or tracker to buy, you just need a timer and a notebook, that’s it.
I didn’t think a tomato based time management system would make such a difference to my productivity, but it did.