Have you come across The Pomodoro Technique before?
If not read on . . .
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals.
Traditionally 25 minutes in length separated by short breaks.
The intervals are called pomodoros.
The Pomodoro Technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.
There are six stages in the technique:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the Pomodoro timer to n minutes (traditionally n = 25).
- Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops in to your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
- After the timer rings put a checkmark on a piece of paper
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks take a short break (3-5 minutes) then go back to
- Else (i.e. after four pomodoros) take a longer break (15-30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero then go to step 1.
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase tasks are prioritised by recording them in a “To Do Today” list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodoros are completed they are recorded adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To Do Today” list.
This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodoros are completed they are recorded adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
For the purpose of the technique, a pomodoro is the interval of time spent working. After task completion any time remaining in the Pomodoro is devoted to overlearning. The theory behind overlearning is that practicing newly acquired skills beyond the point of initial mastery leads to automaticity. Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit.
Why a mechanical timer?
I use this one and you will find many other shapes and sizes available.
The creator and proponents of this technique encourage a low-tech approach, using a mechanical timer, paper and pencil. The physical act of winding the timer confirms the user’s determination to start the task; ticking externalises desire to complete the task; ringing announces a break. Flow and focus become associated with these physical stimuli.
Workplace time management a real challenge. Emails, texts, phone calls and even snack breaks prevent us from focussing on – and effectively executing – a single task at a time. For decades countless people have used the Pomodoro technique to improve work and project productivity.
You can of course set time segments that fit your workflow, reduce distractions and share your productivity timer with your teammates or colleagues to complete tasks more efficiently.
The philosophy behind this aims to provide you with maximum focus and creative freshness thereby allowing you to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.
Frequent breaks will keep your mind fresh and focussed. The system is easy to use and you will see results quickly. You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work (or study) within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of contact use.
If you have a large and varied to do list using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank your way through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing. Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated. The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating. You’ll grow to ‘respect the tomato’ and that can help you to better handle your workload.
Buried in email? Here’s another use for your timer
Let’s assume this is a daily tasks for which you allow half an hour
- Set your timer for 20 minutes.
- Begin dealing with your email
- After 20 minutes your timer will ring. Take stock. Where have you got to?
Chances are you will have responded to some emails you weren’t expecting. You’ve maybe followed a link or two and ended up somewhere you didn’t expect to go (I’m sure we’ve all done this at some time!)
- Set the timer for the remaining 10 minutes and complete what you set out to do.
This process will highlight how long 20 minutes is, how long 10 minutes is and therefore how long 30 minutes is. If you regularly schedule 30 minutes for this task you will become aware if this is a sufficient amount of time. If it’s not then you need to allocate more time to the task.
Using this method your also become aware of the distractions that take you off task (like following web links).
So there you have it; two uses of a timer.
If you’ve not tried these methods before why not give it a go.
What have you got to loose!
And, if it doesn’t work for you?
Well, you can always use your timer for your boiled eggs or baking!
Do you need some help with your time management?
A Time Audit may be just what you need or a review of your plans, objectives and strategy to meet them.
Maybe it’s time to talk
Download my free eBook for more Time Management tips. Visit www.deborahlabbate.com
Business Solutions in a fast paced world tailored to your needs.