I’ll admit, my day does not always work out perfectly to plan. Who’s does? However, I have recently discovered a technique that has given me much more control over my day: the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method using a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks (five minutes). These intervals are named Pomodoros, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer. While the time durations can be adjusted to suit your needs, the concept behind this principle is sound. Carve out time to focus in your day and take regular breaks.
At the beginning of each Pomodoro period, I ramp up to peak productivity after defining three things:
- Goal: What I hope to accomplish.
- Duration: How long I plan to focus.
- Reward: What my reward will be. In this case, my reward is a five-minute break.
After a focus period, I give myself the reward or break I so deserve and move into smaller tasks. I start another Pomodoro period while I am working on email and the smaller tasks.
What are the benefits of using the Pomodoro Technique?
- Balances accessibility and focus – Short bursts of focus time allow us uninterrupted time to focus on strategic work. As we move from focus work into smaller tasks and email, we remain responsive to clients and colleagues.
- Reduces multi-tasking – Research shows focusing takes less time, leads to better quality work and is less stressful. In other words, trying to edit a document and reading an incoming email at the same time is not a productive or enjoyable way to spend our workday. Read More The Pomodoro timer acts as a mental barrier between me and my email. It helps me to push through the task I am focusing on and to avoid the temptation of checking email, until the timer goes off. During the next Pomodoro I can partake in 25 minutes of guilt-free email processing without thinking, “I should be doing other things.”
- Simplifies the One Touch Principle – If we are checking email while working on another task, we typically only have time to read the email. We often leave the work associated with the email until another time. At that point we have to read the email again, which builds redundancy into our day. On the other hand, if we check email between focus bursts, we can read and then action email immediately (using the One-Touch principle) This saves us a tremendous amount of time.
- Reminds me to take a break – Instead of heading immediately into the next task, we take a five-minute break to make ourselves comfortable and give ourselves a brain break. Regular breaks improve productivity.
Work expands to the time allotted. Determining how long we plan to focus improves our pace of work. Introducing the Pomodoro technique has definitely improved my pace of work and helped to reduce multi-tasking. It has also helped me to save time by applying the One Touch principle. Clients and colleagues know what to expect from me because my response time is more consistent. There is no doubt I am more productive as a result of regular breaks.
You can introduce the Pomodoro Technique into your day and benefit from all of these efficiencies too. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. Does your day run more smoothly?