Armed with an obsessive love of color-coding and all things related to organization, I’m on a mission to help you maximize efficiency in your business and life so you can spend time on what matters most to you.
Equally right and left-brained, I’m that unique business owner who can think like a creative, but act like an administrator. This blog is where you’ll see me bring that dual-brained magic to life, taking the left-brain side of life and breaking it down for your right-brained self.
It’s no secret I’m all about efficiency here and definitely a fan of working smarter, not harder.
There are all sorts of different tips, tricks, and hacks for being productive, focused, and just getting stuff done, but when I have a day where I really need to sit down and knock stuff out, I turn to one solution every time — the Pomodoro Technique.
I first heard about the Pomodoro Technique a few years ago when I was working in the marketing department of a non-profit.
I don’t remember exactly why or how it came up, but we were the kind of office that had ping pong tournaments and debates about the proper pronunciation of Oceania in the middle of the day. So, one afternoon, we wound up discussing productivity techniques and my work life was forever changed.
If you’re not familiar with it, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that helps you get more done in less time.
For a lot of us, instead of viewing time as a gift, we view it as the enemy. It’s the thing we never seem to have enough of, especially when it comes to our work days. We often lack discipline and focus, thus wasting time and ultimately racing against the clock to finish projects and meet deadlines.
The Pomodoro Technique seeks to change all of that. It’s deceptively simple to learn and pretty darn life-changing to use.
You start by choosing a task, big or small, new or old. The task itself doesn’t matter, what does is that it’s something deserving of your full, undivided attention.
Next, you set a timer for 25 minutes and make a promise to yourself that you won’t interrupt yourself during the task. You can buy an actual “tomato” timer that you set for each Pomodoro, or use an app like Be Focused to track your time right on your computer.
Once you’ve picked your task and set your timer, it’s time to get to work. Work on that task, completely uninterrupted until your timer rings in 25 minutes. If your brain wanders a bit and you remember something else you need to do, write it down. You can do so physically on a sheet of paper, or keep a notes app open to easily switch over to on your computer.
When your timer rings and your Pomodoro is up, put a checkmark on a paper. Take a break and do something not work-related — like stretching, grabbing a cup of coffee, or going for a super short walk — for five minutes.
Then come back to your desk and repeat the process. Every four Pomodoros (so ever two hours), take a longer break (anywhere from 15-30 minutes) before you begin your next round of Pomodoros.
Now that we’ve covered the what and the how, let’s dive into the why.
Out of all the techniques for improving productivity and focus, why is this the one I turn to, again and again, especially in seasons of busyness when it feels like that to do list is never ending?
I’m not entirely sure what it is, but whenever I use the Pomodoro Technique — even on the days when my attention span is more akin to that of my 2-year-old nephew than an adult human — my focus immediately improves.
I think it’s something about the fact that it’s such a short amount of time. Because, when you think about it, 25 minutes really isn’t that long.
Outside the context of a legit emergency like, say, a fire or an earthquake, it’s unlikely that anything in your life or business is going to suffer immensely from you not responding to or handling it for 25 minutes.
Because of this, it’s a whole lot easier to ignore those phone calls, text messages, or other notifications that roll in during your Pomodoro, because you know you’ll be able to respond in 25 minutes or less, before your next Pomodoro begins.
Because of the fact that you’re more intensely focused, you by default get more things done.
By this point I’m sure you’ve heard about the evils of multitasking and how it’s totally out to destroy your productivity. Well, that’s not entirely true. Multitasking isn’t the major culprit, because it is actually physically impossible to be writing a blog post and responding to an email at the same time.
The actual culprit aiming to destroy your productivity is task switching — aka when you’re constantly switching back and forth between your inbox, your blog post, and that text conversation with your best friend — because when you’re hopping all over the place, it forces your brain to play catch up.
I’m sure you’ve noticed this yourself. You might be writing a blog post and getting into a really good groove or flow… and then you see an email that’s popped into your inbox. So you click over to that tab, read it, and type out a quick response, then click back to your blog post and your brain asks, “Where was I again?” It takes a bit of time to reorient yourself and even longer to get back into that state of groove and flow you were in before you responded to that email.
When you eliminate those distractions and the resultant task switching, you get rid of that time it takes for your brain to reorient, which means you get more done in less time.
Beyond the psychology and stuff of task switching, we also know how hard it can be to keep ourselves away from distractions like social media, text conversations with friends, and more throughout the work day.
Those things are all fun… but they’re rarely getting any work done and putting those dollar bills in the bank.
With the Pomodoro Technique, you have automatic five minute breaks built in between every Pomodoro, allowing you to take that short amount of time to pop into Instagram and scroll through posts, respond to comments on Facebook, or answer text messages from friends and family.
You might be thinking that’s a recipe for disaster, because how on earth are you only going to spend five minutes doing any of those things? Well, it’s simple — set a timer.
Of course, you have to adhere by the timer, but if you set that timer to track your break, it’s a whole lot easier to stick to the boundaries and start your next Pomodoro on time than you might think.
Personally, I like to vary my Pomodoro breaks. I might check Instagram or Facebook during one, stretching during another, and get a drink or snack during yet another.
While all the other benefits of the Pomodoro Technique are great, this is, perhaps, the most beneficial of them all.
The fact is, when you’re running a business (or just living your life), time is your most precious commodity. A huge part of continuing to grow your business is planning and spending your time well, and it’s extremely hard to do that if you don’t know how long it takes to do things.
Sure, you can track your time (which I highly recommend doing), but if you’re distracted and unfocused, task switching and responding to all sorts of things throughout your day, not only is it super hard (really, impossible) to keep track of all of those things, but it’s also an inaccurate reflection of how long those tasks take you.
By using the Pomodoro Technique, tracking how many focused, undistracted blocks of 25 minutes it takes you to get stuff done, you learn how much time is actually takes to do things when you’re working efficiently.
This allows you to better plan your days, weeks, and months, and gives you a better picture of if you’re taking on more than you can handle, when it’s actually time to automate or outsource, and more.
At the end of the day, it’s all about figuring out how you work best and what helps you get the most dome. But if you’ve never added a little Pomodoro to your day, I highly recommend you give it a try. You never know what you might accomplish.
And to help you add those Pomodoros to your day and plan them out, I’ve created a Trello board template to help you plan out your days and weeks Pomodoro style!
An 8-hour work day gives you 12 Pomodoros and three 30 minute breaks. All you’ve gotta do is designate your hours, plan out your tasks, set the timer, and Pomodoro away!
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