Tik, tok. Is time your friend or foe? Do you always race against time to meet deadlines? For most of us, procrastination is the biggest enemy when it comes to achieving productivity. And you are probably unaware of this; many case studies revealed that procrastination rears its ugly head usually when you’re just about to start working at the beginning of your task.
What if there is a “tomato” lifehack that teaches you to work with the time you have, instead of struggling against it? Then you have to try out the infamous, 40-year old Pomodoro Technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Created in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirilo, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that enables you to develop maximised focus and creative freshness during your completion of the project – allowing you to work faster, be smarter and more productive.
Pomodoro stands for “tomato” in Italian as Francesco used a tomato-shaped egg timer known to be the kitchen timer to manage his time. At least over 2 million users benefitted from this technique since its introduction to employees and entrepreneurs namely Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal.
How To Apply The Pomodoro Technique
Like any chefs in the culinary world who has all his ingredients in mise en place before he starts cooking – you too will need to prepare the necessary tools before you begin. What you need are:
- a) An egg timer or time management app
- b) A piece of paper or notebook
- c) Your list of pending tasks
- d) Your determination to stick it out!
Once you have them, follow this simple but incredibly, powerful technique in five simple steps:
Step 1: Choose one task and estimate the total time taken to work on it.
It can be your delayed projects, lengthy to-do lists or emails. Test out this technique during days when you have nothing much on your calendar; it works better without any unavoidable distractions such as calls or arranged appointments.
Step 2: Set your timer to 25 minutes
Each of these 25 minutes blocks of time is called a “Pomodoro”. Egg timer works best as it mentally prepares you to start working on the project once you physically wind the timer. Plus, its consistent “tick-tick-tick” sound makes sure that you stay committed to the task! Either that or a time app that’s designed for your phone or your computer works well too.
Step 3: Work on that specific task for 25 minutes.
During these 25 minutes, you must work as intensely as you can on that one task. Do not ever multi-task! Avoid answering phone calls, scrolling through your social media or reply to incoming messages. Close off any unused or distracting websites. If urgent items do come in, write down these new to-dos’ on a piece of paper or your notepad and attend to them later.
Step 4: After that 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break.
Stop what you’re doing and take this time for your mind to get re-energised. Go grab a snack, get a cup of coffee or tea, take a trip to the restroom, move about, stretch or even relax. Your brain will thank you for that.
Step 5: After four “Pomodoros”, take a longer break.
After completing four 25 minutes time blocks, rest for 15-20 minutes before starting another cycle of Pomodoros. You can squeeze in mindless chores such as cleaning or reading to replenish your concentration span. Then repeat Steps 1 to 5.
Within a day or two of utilising this technique, you will begin to see the noticeable difference in your productivity. Some of the benefits that will last in the long run include:
- Keeping your mind fresh, focused and motivated without getting distracted
- Being able to complete your projects in a shorter time than expected
- Getting more things done due to a sense of urgency
- Avoid having a “perfectionist” mindset due to the constant tweaking of your work
- Decrease your stress level as you perform one task at a time
Practice this Pomodoro technique today and wave goodbye to procrastination! While it is impossible to reduce your never-ending workloads, you can effectively reach your goals by taking regular breaks, learn to observe yourself and improve your work processes.
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