When it comes to getting things done, there are few techniques that work as well as the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management technique invented in the 1980s by Italian consultant Francesco Cirillo and named after a tomato shaped kitchen timer. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.
The technique works as follows:
Pick a task you’re struggling with
Set a timer (it doesn’t have to be tomato shaped) and set it for 25 minutes.
Work on the task until the timer goes off, fully focussed, no interruptions allowed.
Reset the timer for 5 minutes and take a short break (no work allowed).
You have now completed a Pomodoro.
If your task is done in less than 4 Pomodoros, simply work until you’re done in this manner. If it’s a lengthier task, take a longer break after 4 focus sessions, such as 15 to 30 minutes. Then start the process again.
The idea of the break is to give the brain a much needed rest. You can close your eyes, have a little wander, make a cup of tea, anything but work. This will ensure that you are able to get back to focus and focus for longer.
Since its invention and popularisation, people all over the world have used the Pomodoro technique to accomplish amazing things such as finish degrees, write books, and much more. Anything that requires extended focus will benefit from this technique.
What can you do in 25-minute intervals?
Personally, I write blog posts using this technique, especially ones that need a lot of research. Using the Pomodoro technique keeps me focussed as I know that the timer will go off at some point and then I will have to take a break. It can be tempting to keep going when you’re in the flow of the activity, but I recommend you don’t. Your brain needs those small breaks to keep working for longer at peak capacity.
For people who are really good at focus, this technique is adaptable, of course. You can set longer focus periods such as 40 or 50 minutes. If you do, make sure that you give yourself slightly longer breaks as well. Your brain will thank you for it with an ability to focus for longer.
Deep focus work is very intense and our brains can only take so much per day. Research has shown that most people will not be able to focus longer than 4 hours total in a day without burning out very quickly. Especially if you’re working on a book or studying for a degree, be sure to not overdo it. Alternate deep focus work with less brain intensive activities so that your productivity stays high in the long run.
Try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on.
If you would like to keep track of your Pomodoros, I have created a Pomodoro log sheet which is available in my Etsy store.