At times, do you feel overwhelmed?
Does it feel like you have far more projects and tasks on your to-do list than you can possibly accomplish?
I’ve had days like that. Days where I’ve spent so much time thinking about all the things I need to do that I don’t get anything done. Sometimes even small tasks seem like giant mountains to be climbed. In truth, these projects may only take a few minutes to complete once you set your mind to it.
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of time management books and articles trying to find the perfect system, tool, or time saving trick to make myself more productive and able to accomplish more in my day. While I have picked up a few useful tips along the way, nothing has transformed my work day like the Pomodoro Technique.
My job allows me to work from home which means most days, I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder. I’m judged primarily on the work that I complete. For me, that kind of freedom is crucial to my happiness. With that freedom, also comes responsibility. I’m far from perfect, but most days, I get up at 6:00 a.m. and go to the gym, getting back in time to be showered and dressed to start work at my computer at 8:00 a.m. The rest of the day, it’s up to me to stay focused and create and complete a wide range of projects.
The Tomato for Time Management
If I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it’s hard to be fully engaged in what I need to do. That’s where the Pomodoro Technique comes in. The word pomodoro is Italian for “tomato”. The Pomodoro Technique was named after the tomato by Francesco Cirillo, its creator, because of the tomato timer that is often used.
The Pomodoro Technique is very simple to use and follow each day with five basic steps:
Choose a task to be accomplished
Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
If you get distracted or off task, you start the Pomodoro over and that one doesn’t count.
While some people opt for a physical timer on their desk, I love the free site Tomatoi.st. It runs in the background while I’m working and has a soft bell that goes off after each Pomodoro. It even tracks your pomodoros at the bottom of the page. I challenge myself to see how many Pomodoros I can complete and am always amazed by how much work can be accomplished during 25 minutes of being focused.
Increased Focus and Living in the Present Moment
The Pomodoro Technique also helps me with my intention to be more focused and fully present each day. Instead of allowing myself to think about all 25 items on my to-d0 list at once, I focus on one task at a time, giving it my full attention and effort. The result has been a higher level of productivity and a greater sense of accomplishment with my work.
For more information on the Pomodoro Technique, visit the Pomodoro Technique website or check out the book, The Pomodoro Technique. Gigaom has also gathered a list of 9 Free Pomodoro Timers that you can use.
What is your favorite time management technique? Have you tried Pomodoro? Did it help your time management? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.by