Usually, I like to keep things simple. I look at my tasks for the week, jot down a list of things I want to get done that day, and then start hustling. However, lately I’ve been on the lookout for productivity hacks and tricks to help me thrive through the day.
When I heard so much chatter about the Pomodoro Technique, I figured I should at least do my due diligence and give it a try. Testing it out couldn’t hurt—and, if all went well, maybe I’d even identify a new hack for tackling my never-ending tasks.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This time management system encouraged people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are referred to as Pomodoros. And after about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
The idea behind the technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time (not really) in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have a limited amount of time to make as much progress on a task as possible.
Additionally, the forced breaks help to cure that burnt-out feeling most of us experience toward the end of the day. It’s impossible to spend hours in front of your computer without even noticing it, as that ticking timer reminds you to get up and take a breather.
The concept of keeping such detailed track of my workday seemed a little cumbersome to me. So, I downloaded the Pomodoro Timer on my phone (it’s Focus Keeper - Time Management on the App Store and Clear Focus on the Google Play store).
If I’m being perfectly honest, I anticipated not liking this at all. I’m the type of person who tends to get anxiety when I know I have a ticking timer on my back.
Because I was so used to working in those long chunks of time - during which I thought I was being productive - the idea of splitting up my workday and wasting time on breaks seemed totally counterintuitive. Could working less actually help me accomplish more?
After a month with the Pomodoro Timer I realised how completely wrong I was! My hypothesis was wrong. I actually ended up really liking this method—and it’s probably something I’ll continue to implement when I want to kick my productivity up a notch.
At first, it felt completely unnatural to work in such small increments. There were a few times - especially during the initial days - when I would completely ignore the timer and continue working. But then somehow I forced myself to stick to the app.
After a week or two, the technique started to really gel with me. I was focused and insanely productive during my work time, as I was eager to get as much completed during that 25-minute interval as I could. I didn’t find myself mindlessly scrolling through LinkedIn or getting sucked in by those pesky clickbait articles and as a serial multi-tasker, I noticed that I was totally zoned in on the one project at hand.
Because I was forced to get up and give myself a rest from staring at my desktop screen, I found that I actually had put in an honest days work, without having felt stressed, blurry-eyed and cramped up.
But of course, where there is a pro there is a con! While the pomodoro technique worked great on the days when all my time was my own, it became quite complicated on days when I had scheduled calls and/or meetings. I don’t think my clients or colleagues would react too favorably to me yelling, “Be back in five! My timer just went off!” in the middle of a conversation.
All in all, I was surprised to find that I had actually began to like the Pomodoro Technique, and I think it lived up to its promises of making me more focused and productive.
Have you given this a try? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts down below in the comments section.