The Pomodoro technique is based on the principle of doing focused work for a specific period of time, or “pomodoro”.
Named because of the tomato kitchen timer originally used to test out the technique, the idea is to fit as many “pomodori” into your day as possible, taking a short break between each session, and a longer break after you’ve completed a number of these focused periods of work.
However, it’s one thing to read about different time management techniques and think about the benefits they might provide and they ways they might streamline your routine. While it’s great to understand these techniques in theory, what happens when you actually apply the technique in practice?
Here are 5 considerations we found when trying out the Pomodoro time management technique:
1. Decide on what time period works for you
We worked on a time session of 25 minutes, which meant measureable sessions of 30 minutes in total including a short break. While it can be tempting to get involved in a task and go over the 25 minute mark, having this time limit in place is helpful in keeping you focused, and not wasting time on unnecessary tasks.
2. Enjoy your breaks
It can be difficult to get up and move around when you’ve been solidly focused for 25 minutes, but getting up and away from your desk is an important part of this technique, as each break gives you a chance to refresh and recharge for the next session.
3. Use a reliable timer
We used a computer based timer, which was convenient for tracking time because it fed directly into a task management system. However, using a physical timer like a tomato kitchen timer is actually much more useful, as limited battery life on a laptop can interrupt an otherwise productive session. There are a number of app based timers that can also be used very effectively in conjunction with this technique, notably Time Timer which has a helpful red clock display, which can conveniently gives an indication of how much time is left with a quick glance.
4. It takes practice
Ideally you’d be able to fit a considerable amount of “pomodori” sessions into your day, but the reality is that often life and other distractions intervene. While aiming for a certain number of sessions each day can help to keep you focused, it takes time to incorporate this kind of time management into a hectic routine. We felt that starting off with a small goal and working towards increasing this over time was a good start, making sure that we tracked the number of sessions each day to gauge our progress.
5. Focused work can give you a different perspective
It can sometimes feel like certain tasks can take forever, as we try to cram as much activity into one day and can feel like we never get anything done. By focusing our time and paying attention to a single task, or devoting our attention to solving a problem in a set period of time, we can actually come to appreciate how long it actually takes to complete certain tasks.
Making the Pomodoro Technique Practical
Whether you use a kitchen timer or not, monitoring your time and making a concerted effort to focus can help in developing a more productive mindset. By allocating a certain amount of time to getting something done, we can be more realistic about our capabilities, and recognise when task deadlines need to be re-evaluated, or when we absolutely have to push the clock to get something done. With consistent effort and practice, training your mind to be more diligent can help to make even the most intimidating task list more manageable.