10 Jul How To Use The Pomodoro Technique – Successfully!
Tell me, are you tired of working so hard and still not getting to where you want to be? Do you find yourself re-writing goal sheets over and over and starting new projects all of the time yet never finishing them? Do you have great ideas but have not put them into action because there is just never enough time?
What Is The Problem?
The sad reality of my day to day business is that, due to sheer overwhelm, jumping head first into projects and constantly putting out fires, I find that most of my clients have lost complete focus of their priorities and what’s even worse complete sense of how long any item on their to-do list actually takes them. This may not sound so bad to you but not knowing how long anything takes, makes it sheer impossible for you to truly plan and schedule an item on your to-do list and finishing the day feeling accomplished. In essence, adding items to your to-do list and not knowing how long it takes to complete them inadvertently sets you up for failure each and every day. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Just ask yourself, in the stretch of one day, how often do you find yourself thinking: “This will only take me a minute or two” when glancing over your to-do list? Some have even mentioned it’ll only take them a second when I asked them.
Trust me, I know how easy it is to fall for that but if you really think about it, when has anything ever taken you only a minute or two, let alone a second? Add to that the constant interruption we are faced with these days, whether we are talking email, text notifications or someone barging into our office needing something right now, putting their needs over yours. All that, is making it so much harder for us to TRULY FOCUS on our work and all in all only getting the little things, the unimportant things done but your big picture / your actual goal many times gets lost in the shuffle. How frustrating!
Coming To Terms With Reality
To truly understand how long an action item on my clients to-do list really takes them, I like to put them to the test and help them come to terms with reality. Regardless of the action item, in each case whether they were answering emails, call clients, pay bills, create marketing campaigns, clean up their desk, write blog posts, file or set out to work on much larger projects.
What they all have in common is that they all had a specific time made up in their mind of how long each to-do item on their list would take them. But surprisingly enough in reality: Each and Everyone Grossly Under- or Grossly Over- Calculated On How Long Each Task Actually Takes Them.
Put Yourself And Your To – Do List To The Test
Are you ready to experience the positive effects of making progress and feeling accomplished each and every day? Your very first step is to acknowledge that there actually might be a problem. Simply put your action items to the test to know for sure. All it takes is for you to time yourself each time you begin a new task.
STEP 1 – Go about your daily tasks and simply select ONE item from your to-do list to get started.
STEP 2 – Notate the time you think it will take you to complete the item (if there are many steps to your action item, than more than likely this is an actual project – be sure to pick an item that is only one step in order to complete.) Projects, should be broken down into individual tasks, that can be worked on one step at a time.
STEP 3 – Take action, do the chosen task and set the timer when you begin.
STEP 4 – Stop the timer when complete, notate the time behind the time you guessed and compare. (This should include the times that you get interrupted, get up for whatever reason etc. – afterall we truly want to find out how long it takes you to complete an item and really see the problem we all face.
STEP 5 – Continue with other items you do all of the time.
Becoming aware of how long something actually takes you vs. what you think can help you plan your day and your to-do items much better in the long run . And you will feel much more accomplished at the end of the day. It’s a simple math solution, there are only so many hours in the day and only so many things that can be accomplished. But then again, you might be thinking this works great with all sorts of one off items that you continuously have to do but what about the not so clear cut items such as creating graphics for a marketing campaign, writing your newsletter, proposals, research etc.? Basically, all the stuff we procrastinate on most of the time.
And this my dear friends is where the Pomodoro Technique comes in and has been a wonderful solution for many when it comes to their productivity, focus time and best use of their daily time management, myself included!
YOUR ANSWER – THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
In my mind the best way to break down your day and finding your focus throughout the day is “The Pomodoro Technique” which will let you take back your time, get the important things done and move you towards your goals and isn’t that what we are all trying to do? Getting things done, reach our goals, get back to our family, find time for our friends, enjoying a hobby and so on?
So let’s jump right in. Below you will find everything there is to know about “The Pomodoro Technique,” how Pomodoro can give you back that sense of time and how you can get started implementing “The Pomodoro Technique” TODAY! When implemented you get back to moving on your goals and finally getting to all the things you never seem to get to.
SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS POMODORO?
The exact opposite of MULTI-TASKING as your entire focus goes toward one task for 25 minutes to then be rewarded with a five minute break.
The idea behind “The Pomodoro Technique” is simple – you basically work on any given task for 25 uninterrupted minutes and then take a five minute break, training your brain to focus for short periods of time thus helping improve your attention span, concentration, helping you get things done and best of all help accurately planning tasks as you get a better understanding of how long a task truly takes you.
Francesco Cirillo the inventor / developer of “The Pomodoro Technique” named the system Pomodoro after the tomato – shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student (Pomodoro – Tomato in Italian.) His method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve your mental agility, your brain associates the breaks with something positive and therefore wants more.
“THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE” – Intro Video by Greg Head
Be sure to take the five minutes it takes to watching this video. It is one of the best videos I found explaining why and how Pomodoro could easily become your favorite time management tool.
Why Should You Consider Pomodoro?
- It can help you get more of the important things done with higher quality.
- Already after a short while “The Pomodoro Technique” will let you understand your time better and how long individual tasks actually take you, thus letting you accurately plan out your tasks.
- It’s so simple, yet life-changing and all you need is a timer. No books to read, complicated systems to learn or expensive equipment to buy. And who doesn’t like that?
- Working in individual blocks of time will keep you focused on the one task at hand . . . not necessarily finishing the actual task but helping you move forward and making progress instead of procrastinating.
What Tasks Work Best?
“The Pomodoro Technique” pretty much can help with any tasks that you want and need done but have trouble getting to . . .
- Creative tasks such as writing.
- Important tasks that need your immediate attention – possibly with a deadline attached.
- Tasks that require intense focus and no distractions.
- Any tasks you consistently find yourself procrastinating on such as inbox zero also know as better email management
- Reading, deep thinking and brainstorming, planning, goal setting – all the things that usually get lost during a busy work day but are necessary to move your business forward.
Your Tool Choice
As mentioned before you really don’t need anything special except a kitchen timer. However, here are a few suggestions if you do find yourself wanting something a bit more special.
- Clear Focus | Free – Pomodoro App on Google Play – A Favorite In The Android Community
- Pomodoro Time Pro | A Pomodoro Timer in iTunes For All Of Your Apple Products
- Tomato Timer | Free Pomodoro App – https://tomato-timer.com
- Esington Glass | Productivity Timer – Esington / Kickstarter – https://esington.com
- Tomato Kitchen Timer | Amazon – Kitchen Timer
The Esington Glass Timer is the one I personally use. It was a gift from my husband who knows I like the simpler and sometimes prettier things. My timer beautifully sits on my desk and makes me happy each time I look at it.
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS – Six Simple Steps!
STEP 1: Turn Off Any Distractions such as email notifications, text messaging etc.
STEP 2: Choose A Task To Be Worked On And Write The Task Down. It works best to only work from one list which can be a simple piece of paper on your notepad, Evernote, OneNote, a To-Do App that you use or your calendar the importance here is that you do not have multiple lists and important things don’t get missed.
It may be helpful for you to categorize your To-Do’s into three large categories such as:
- Things, that will take you longer than one hour
- Things, that will take you no less than one hour
- Things, that can be done within five to 15 minutes
Allowing you to get a good overview of how long tasks are and how quickly you can get them done when working in full concentration.
STEP 3: Set Your Timer for 25 Minutes. This is where the Pomodoro Technique comes into play. Francesco Cirillo realized that just like many of us that he was having a really hard time to stay focused over long period of times. His solution was to break down large projects into smaller and more manageable chunks. He would set his timer for exactly 25 minutes and would simply start and only work on that ONE specific item. So regardless of how big and complicated the overall project may be for you, getting started is key and luckily enough there will be a little five minute break at the end.
STEP 4: Reward Yourself With A Short Five Minute Break when that timer rings or beeps. Enjoy your little break, get out of your chair, get a drink, stretch a little or give yourself five minutes and go outside for some fresh air and don’t be tempted to check email or do some other kind of work. The five minutes are really meant to to take a BREAK! Our brains were never meant to work hours on hours without a break, our eyes get strained and our concentration suffers. Be kind to yourself, breathe and enjoy the moment.
STEP 5: Mark Your Progress – Right behind the task on your to-do. This will keep you motivated over time, you may have not completed the task but doing this daily will keep you aware that in fact you are making progress.
STEP 6: Take A 15 to 30 Minute Break after completing four Pomodoro’s in a row and decide if you need to switch tasks or if you want to continue working on the same item.
Get started today! I want to hereby challenge you to pick one important task, one that you may have been procrastinating on such as emptying your inbox, cleaning off your desk or a big writing assignment you have been meaning to get to and just do it. I guarantee you may not finish your task but you will feel great to finally have started and don’t be surprised when you find yourself wanting to continue : )
SHARE YOUR PROGRESS & Inspire Others
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this article and please share any thoughts, comments, ideas, testimonials with us down below. Whether you are a long – time pomodoro user or tried the technique for the first time, I would love to hear about any experience with “The Pomodoro Technique.” What tasks are you struggling with the most? Do you see yourself adding “The Pomodoro into your life?
I was using my Esington timer, the lovely gift from my husband and it took me exactly SEVEN Pomodoros spread over two days . . . I’m a slow writer and known to be a perfectionist, writing doesn’t come naturally to me and tends to be the first thing that I like to procrastinate on. Making use of my Pomodoro however does get me started and usually the task doesn’t seem so dreadful any longer once I do.