If you're working on a report due the next day, you may end up getting little done if colleagues interrupt you. Or worse, having your cell phone go off or seeing constant email notifications popping up on your computer screen. Situations such as the ones mentioned earlier are what Francesco Cirillo experienced while in college. His struggles lead to coming up with the Pomodoro technique. It's what I refer to the Pomodoro method study when it comes to this time management hack.
Pomodoro Method Study
In this post, I'm going to discuss Cirillo's book. The Pomodoro Technique has helped save people time doing tasks while avoiding all the everyday distractions. Also, I'll go into the differences between internal and external distractions and how to avoid distractions whenever you can.
Pomodoro Method Study:
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique refers to a tomato size timer that helps you keep track of your time doing tasks. You work on assignments in 25-minute time blocks, followed by five-minute breaks. Small-time blocks are better since you're not spending time much time on one task. Instead of blocking out an entire day to work on a project, break down the process in smaller time frames. Or as Cirillo suggests, do 25 minute work periods, then five-minute breaks throughout the day.
Stick to time & breaks
Cirillo stresses that Pomodoro is always 25 minutes long. Also, no half time, no 80% time spent on a task. It's just a full 25-minute working period. If you happen to finish a job before the 25 minutes are up, stick with it and keep going.
What else can you do with the spare five or ten minutes you have left? If you finished writing a report, proofread it to yourself and check for spelling or grammar errors. Especially when writing stories, you'll probably find a couple of mistakes that need corrections.
Breaks are essential if you want to make the most of your time. Cirillo suggests five minutes because your mind needs to rest briefly. Use pauses to get up and stretch or walk around to clear your mind before the next time block. After about four Pomodoro (roughly 100 minutes of working), Cirillo says to take a more extended break between 15-30 minutes. The longer intervals can be used to do things such as checking email, making a follow-up phone call to a client, or grabbing a quick bite to eat.
The Pomodoro Technique Tools
It doesn't have to be a tomato-shaped timer that Cirillo demonstrates in his book. It can be an alarm clock, your smartphone, or a stopwatch if it's more convenient for you to use. As long as you can set time limits for yourself, any timer device will work. When I practiced this technique, I used a regular alarm clock along with an app on my Mac book called “Red Hot Timer.”
1. To-Do Today
This list includes tasks that you intend to get done today; in other words, the priorities you need to be put front and center before anything else. Once you put those tasks together, then separate them by how much time you think it'll take you to complete those tasks. Will it take three Pomodoro (about 75 minutes of work), or 1 Pomodoro (25-minute time block)? It's up to you.
Below is a shortlist I wrote out earlier.
If you cannot complete some tasks today, then make some notes to determine how long it will take you. So if there is a PowerPoint presentation that you know, it'll take a couple of days to finish, then divide it up into smaller units one day at a time. Would you instead get smaller groups done in a two-hour block instead of dragging it out for one full day? I think we know what the obvious choice would be- to go with the shorter time frame whenever possible.
The Pomodoro Technique: Distractions
These are distractions that can range from random thoughts scrolling around your mind or shopping online. But keep in mind, these internal distractions can end up taking a good 20-30 minutes away from accomplishing your work goals.
These distractions can vary. They can be colleagues interrupting you throughout the day. Other ones include email notifications going off on your desktop or smartphone notifications going off every couple of minutes.
Of course, interruptions by colleagues or your manager are inevitable, but keep in mind that you can control these kinds of distractions. If one of your coworkers needs you to help them out, kindly say you'll get with them in 5-10 minutes. Those types of conversations can end up being a massive time-waster at work. Unless it's urgent, earning a couple more minutes working on a project won't hurt. Getting used to this practice will help be more disciplined with your time.
The Pomodoro Technique has proven to work for many people managing their time. Cirillo doesn't stress enough the importance of practicing the technique. In other words, sticking to 25-minute time blocks and 5 minute breaks to follow. If you want to change the way you work, then stick to the time limits. Even I tried the technique for a few days, and it was quite challenging. But after sticking with it for a week, I noticed some changes and found I was getting more things done. So I benefited a great deal practicing the technique because I was doing tasks at a much slower rate than usual.
If you would like to try this out at the office, go to his website for more in-depth training on the Pomodoro Technique.
If you've tried the Pomodoro Technique before, please share your experience by leaving a comment below. Also, please share this post with others.
Eric is a time management consultant and owner of the blog, quitkillingtime.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time, personally and professionally. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He likes to go for long walks out in nature and been taking Zumba classes every week at his local gym. You can follow Eric via Facebook and LinkedIn.