Time Management 101: An Expert Guide To The Pomodoro Technique

Time Management 101: An Expert Guide To The Pomodoro Technique

When you’re feeling scrambled, like your mind is all over the place, focus is the ally you need. And when…

When you’re feeling scrambled, like your mind is all over the place, focus is the ally you need. And when it comes to better focus, you need the Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro Technique is a method for helping you concentrate and get actual work done. It’s straightforward and easy to do at any time.

It’s simple.

Because let’s face it, you have a lot to do. You’re busy and don’t have time to spare on some complicated procedure. You need to get to it right now.

So let’s not waste any time.

This guide to the Pomodoro Technique is broken into two parts. The first part explains what the Pomodoro Technique is and how to apply it. The second part explores the importance of the Pomodoro Technique, when to use it, and its relevance in defeating distraction.

 

Time Management 101: An Expert Guide To The Pomodoro Technique

Each morning I wake up bright and early – around 6:15AM.  I go through my normal routine and start working on QuickBooost (the site that you’re on right now) before most people are even awake.

Why?

Because I get distracted easily.

And when the rest of the world wakes up and starts trying to get in touch with me, my focus and ability to work on QuickBooost quickly falls to zero.

So I get up early.

I use the morning as a time for uninterrupted focus and to tackle what is most important. I work on QuickBooost before my other responsibilities start to set in and do my best to outsmart distraction and get some actual work done.

Now, I should preface this by stating the obvious – I’m lucky.

Lucky that I work from home (I run QuickBooost on the side and have a full-time job as well). Lucky that I don’t have a long commute to and from work each day. That my mornings are quiet and allow me time to concentrate.

Not everyone can be so lucky.

And when you’re in a busy office space you don’t always have the luxury of getting hours of work in before the rest of the team arrives. That’s where things like the Pomodoro Technique and other focus-related strategies become so helpful.

 

Use this guide to the Pomodoro Technique to increase your focus, become more productive, boost your time management, and get more of the right stuff done!

 

What is the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple time management tactic that has amassed a large following in recent years.

Originally created by Francesco Cirillo, he needed a better way to focus on his work and get stuff done.  To help, he started using a tomato-shaped timer to help him break his larger projects into more manageable blocks.

He would set the timer, focus on the task, and when the timer went off, would take a break, reset, and repeat the process again.

And because of the Pomodoro-tomato shape of the timer, he called his method the Pomodoro Technique. And thus, a time management staple was born.

 

How to do the Pomodoro Technique

Did you need to know that background? No, but I bet you were curious as to where the name came from. So… you’re welcome?

With that out of the way, it’s time to dive into the actual step-by-step process for doing the Pomodoro Technique. Here’s what to do:

  1. Task: Choose the task that you will be working on.
  2. Timer: Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Action: Work on that one task for the duration of the 25 minutes. Shut out all distractions. Put all of your focus onto that task.
  4. Short break: When the timer is up, take a short break (around five minutes). If you’d like to monitor your progress, you can also place a checkmark on a piece of paper to signify that you completed one Pomodoro round.
  5. Reset: When the break is done, set the timer for 25 minutes again and get back to it.
  6. Repeat: Repeat as needed.
  7. Extended break: After four Pomodoro rounds, take a longer break of around 20-30 minutes to give yourself some time to relax.

 

Dig a little deeper

Pretty straightforward, right? It’s a simple tactic, but it’s actually very effective in reigning in your attention so that you can focus on what matters.

To dig a little deeper though, there are a few points that need to be discussed.

First, when choosing a task to work on, make sure it is a high-level, priority task. Sure, you can use this technique for doing laundry, but try to actually use it on something important. On achieving one of your goals, for instance.

Next, the 25 minutes of focus is designed to give you a short sprint of action followed by a short break. Don’t neglect the break!

Just like if you were to actually run sprints, you wouldn’t do them over and over again with no rest in between. You’d quickly run out of energy.

So when that timer goes off, set the timer again for five minutes and take your break.

Along those same lines, after four Pomodoro rounds, be sure to take an even longer break. You’ve been working hard and your mind needs some rest.

Finally, you may be interested in finding a Pomodoro Technique app or Pomodoro Technique timer or Pomodoro tracker. Realistically, don’t worry about it. At the end of the day, the best strategy is a simple one.

The timer on your phone gets the job done perfectly.

 

Actually important

Regarding the work you tend to focus on, I touched on it above already, but to reiterate, you want to work on tasks that are actually important.

You want to work on tasks that are valuable and will help you achieve your overall goals. They could be career-related goals, financial goals, whatever. The category of goal doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you use your time wisely and work on important tasks first, before using your Pomodoro rounds on lower level tasks.

Now, if you are unfamiliar with goal setting, I recommend you get acquainted with it ASAP.

Because goal setting helps you uncover what you value most and deem important. From there, you can start utilizing the Pomodoro Technique to help you achieve those aims.

To learn more about goal setting (and to ensure you work on things that are actually important), check out my post on goal setting here. I also have a full goal setting course that you can learn more about here.

 

Four people meet in a coffee shop. One person writes in a notebook.

 

The importance of Pomodoro

You have a lot going on; Slack messages coming in, meetings to run to, responsibilities piling up. Distraction is all around you. All tugging on you. Pulling you one way or another.

It’s hard to focus on what actually matters.

That’s why something like the Pomodoro Technique is so valuable: it forces you to set an intention, focus on your work, and stay focused until it’s time to take a break.

In other words, it helps you reign in some of that chaos so that you can actually get your work done.

Now, are there other ways to combat distraction? Sure! I have an entire course dedicated to helping you be your most productive self. I have posts and bootcamps geared towards helping you focus on what matters most.

But at the end of the day, if you are looking for a simple, fast, and easy tactic for better focus right now, you should give the Pomodoro Technique a try.

 

Love-Hate

I have a love-hate relationship with distractions.

On one hand, distraction is really the opposite of using your time productively. It’s playing on Snapchat instead of reading a book. It’s a cousin to procrastination, really.

On the other hand, distraction also acts as a warning system. For example, when I get distracted writing a post (like this one), it serves as a signal that I should probably take a break and reset.

Now, if someone barges into your office, that is a different kind of distraction altogether.

But in the case of getting distracted while working, it’s a good indication that you are running low on energy and need a break.

My gripe with distraction isn’t when it’s acting a signal. My gripe is when outside distractions start commanding your attention and pull you away from work that really matters.

 

When to use the Pomodoro Technique

When you find yourself in this kind of scenario, where outside factors and distractors continuously come in and mess with your workflow, these are perfect times to apply the Pomodoro Technique.

Follow my logic here.

You have your task set. You’re working on it. You’re 18 minutes into your first round. And… ugh oh… distraction arises. A slack notification just came in.

What do you do?

You stick to the Pomodoro round and keep working! And when your timer goes off seven minutes later, then you check Slack and get caught up – without ruining your workflow.

And then when your five minute timer goes off, you can get back to work focusing on what’s important and can deal with any other distractions during your next break.

So when it comes to applying the Pomodoro Technique, feel free to use it really whenever you want to get some real, meaningful work done.

It doesn’t have to just be about work though.

You could apply it to running, reading, or drawing. Be creative with your approach and experiment with the Pomodoro Technique in other aspects of your life.

 

Someone using the Pomodoro Technique to focus on their creative work: using a ruler and construction paper to make a design.

 

Moving forward with the Pomodoro Technique

You’re busy. You have a lot to do but keep getting distracted at every turn. What are you to do?

Give the Pomodoro Technique a try!

Determine what task is most important, set a timer for yourself (using the structure outlined above), and get to work. Continue to do round after round and witness the amazing amount of progress you will make.

Experiment with different times and scenarios and track your efforts. Be thoughtful and creative with your approach and attain thoughtful, creative results.

With that settled, you may still be curious as to other ways that you can utilize your time. I have a lot to recommend!

First and foremost, if you want a full A-Z system for being productive with your time each day, check out my productivity course. You can learn more here.

Feel free to also check out some of my related posts that cover:

 


 

References:

Francesco Cirillo

Life Hacker

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