Although first developed by Francesco Cirillo more than 30 years ago, the Pomodoro Technique remains a popular and effective time management exercise for those looking to improve their productivity. In contrast to some of the more complex and time-consuming methods, the Pomodoro Technique does not require a lot of preparation or tools to get started.
The name “pomodoro,” which is the Italian word for tomato, is a reference to the tomato-shaped kitchen timer used by Cirillo when he first invented (and began using) the method in the ‘80s. Each round of the exercise is referred to as a pomodoro. Here’s how to get started.
The 6 Steps of the Pomodoro Technique:
- Choose a task you want to complete
- Set your timer for 25 minutes
- Work on the task until time is up
- Write a checkmark on a piece of paper (or template) to track the completion of each pomodoro
- Take a short break (5-10 minutes)
- Repeat the steps until you’ve completed 4 pomodoros, then take a longer break (20-30 minutes)
As time goes on, and as you become more comfortable with the technique, you may find you want to adapt it to better fit your lifestyle or adjust the frequency to avoid having your schedule begin to feel too rigid or repetitive.
While the method does not require you to use a physical timer like Cirillo—in fact, there are a number of pomodoro timer apps available online—it’s important to consider whether having devices like a phone or tablet nearby are likely to be a distraction for you while you’re working.
What Makes the Pomodoro Technique Effective?
There are many benefits to practicing this technique that make it worthwhile. Some of the reasons it is effective for many include:
- It helps ensure you take breaks — When there’s an urgent task to complete, it’s easy to remain absorbed in your work for hours on end but it’s important to step away, even if only briefly. Breaks are an essential part of the exercise, and the shorter ones allow enough time to get a cup of coffee/tea/water and stretch a little bit before settling back in.
- It helps improve concentration — When there’s a lot to be done, it’s easy to feel distracted or allow your attention to be divided between projects throughout the day. By dedicating 25 minutes to work on one task only, you can help train your mind to focus more intently during those short intervals of time knowing there’s a break waiting for you at the end.
- It provides insight into what it takes to complete recurring tasks — A benefit of tracking your time in this way is that it can give you insight into how much time and effort is required to complete a given task. Maybe it takes multiple pomodoros to complete the research stage of a project but only one pomodoro to perform the overview or final writeup. Understanding how much time is required can help you better plan and manage your deadlines.
You, too, are probably familiar with a number of project management tools designed to help you track what needs to be done, manage progress, and track due dates. Tools aside, learning how to actually manage our time better can be one of the most effective means of ensuring we see projects through to completion.
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