September’s here. Which tells us that Halloween is also almost here, bringing with it all the candies and decorations you could imagine! But before we can get to all that fun stuff, we first have to go through the beginning of a new school year. This means there are new things that are going to be added to everyone’s to-do lists: whether it be finishing up an assignment; making lunch for the kids; dropping the kids off to practice. You get the picture.
So show of hands: who here wakes up in the morning ready to perform any of these numerous tasks in a row, without stopping, until everything is completed?
Are those crickets I hear? That’s what I thought.
It’s difficult to have your undivided attention on a certain task. Unless you’re in the zone, of course. But even then, your zone is still within the constraints of a time frame. And if you raised your hand because you’re always ready to face all your tasks, I commend you! How do you do it? For the rest of the people that aren’t in this category though, you could try using the pomodoro technique to get your head in the game.
What is the pomodoro technique?
In the late 1980’s, Francesco Cirillo developed this time management technique. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato and the technique is called that due to the kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a student. It aims to provide complete focus and freshness: the end-goal is to finish projects quickly, with less mental fatigue.
The practice is to work in short increments, typically 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. This 30-minute cycle is called a pomodoro. After completing four pomodoros, you would take a longer break (between 15-30 minutes). If anyone was wondering, four complete pomodoros is called a set.
Steps for the pomodoro technique:
- List and decide on the tasks you want done.
- Set your timer. 25 minutes is the suggested time limit.
- Do your work until the timer rings.
- Mark down your completed pomodoro.
- Take a break.
- Repeat steps 2 to 5, four more times.
- Take a long break after the fourth pomodoro.
- Return to step 1 until you’ve finished everything you needed to do.
Does it work?
The pomodoro technique was designed to keep you focused, and keep you from getting overwhelmed about completing projects. And, although I don’t think it was meant for this specifically, it also plays a hand in training you to work faster. How does it do that? By putting you under a time constraint, of course!
Knowing that there is a timer motivates you to keep your attention on the task at hand. If you’re like me and you like to make a game out of chores and work, you’d want to race the clock to get as much done in the little amount of time you’ve got: so you stay focused and work steadily. Also, taking a short break interval, after a time of extreme focus, and spreading a project between pomodoros help to eliminate any frustration that may have built up had you been doing your work straight through.
As for the question of whether or not the pomodoro technique works, I think that all depends on an individual’s work ethic and preferences in the end. I have days when the pomodoro technique works perfectly with the tasks I have planned; and I also have days when nothing is working for me and I can’t rely on any technique.
But don’t let that stop you! If you have a bad day, then you have a bad day. It’s nothing to beat yourself up over. Just make sure not to make a habit of it.
Should you use it?
Like I said in the previous section, the effectiveness of the pomodoro technique really depends on your work/study style. It’s a simple time management system to use, very low-tech; all you need is a timer—and that’s something that’s readily available within the clock app on our smartphones.
If you’re still trying to figure out which time management system works for you, you should try the pomodoro technique out! It’s not at all time-consuming (no pun intended!) to get started; and it doesn’t require different materials or software programs. You’ll also feel less overwhelmed because the amount of time you need to stay focused is a short one: 25 minutes compared to 2 hours straight.
So what do you think?
Have you tried the pomodoro technique? Did it work for you? Or do you use a different tactic to keep yourself focused on a specific task? Let me know in the comments below!