|  November 18, 2013

Productivity tips: The Pomodoro Technique

I love productivity tips and tricks. Whether they are work-related or life-hacks, I’m a big fan of anything that can help me use my time more efficiently.  Enter the Pomodoro Technique…


The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that has you break up tasks into 25-minute increments – and in that 25 minutes… you commit to NOT getting distracted from the task at hand.

I’ll let the experts from http://pomodorotechnique.com/ explain how their technique can help (PS – I’m going to try to write this post in 25 minutes – one “pomodoro”):

image via http://pomodorotechnique.com/get-started/

image via http://pomodorotechnique.com/get-started/

Experimenting with the Pomodoro Technique

For me personally, a glaring example of distractions being lethal to productivity is when I’m writing a post for Prepary. I start writing it, but then an email pops up, or I have the sudden urge to check my Twitter feed, or a text pops up on my phone, or someone around me asks me a question.

Sometimes the distraction is more legitimate. During my research on the topic at hand I get interested in a related but different topic, and then proceed to go down the rabbit hole of learning about that instead of writing. By the time I finish my post, I’ve somehow spent an hour and a half at my computer.

So, I’m going to try to write this post using this method.

Intrigued? Here are the steps if you want to give it a try too…

  1. First, think about your task – how long do you think it will take you? Could you accomplish it in one 25-minute increment? Do you need more?
  2. Break up your task into manageable chunks – If you think your task will take more than one “pomodoro”, I think it’s helpful to break up a larger tasks into sub-tasks. In the example of writing my post maybe the first pomodoro chunk is actually writing but the second chunk is for proofreading, embedding images, and ultimately scheduling the post to go live.
  3. Commit to focusing – This is key. Once you start that timer, you need to be in it to win it. If anything else comes up, commit to ignoring it and if something is important enough, write it down on a piece of paper so you know to revisit once the timer is up.
  4. Start the timer – You can buy a cute little tomato from http://pomodorotechnique.com/timer/ but I find that any timer works just fine. I use the one on my iphone and simply set it to 25 minutes.
  5. When you’re done, take a quick break – Breaks are the key to this technique. Once the 25 minutes is up, don’t start a new chunk right away. Get up, grab some coffee, take a quick walk around the room or office, and just clear your head. These breaks are usually short ones, around 5 minutes.
  6. If you’ve done 4 increments, it’s suggested that you take a long 15-30 minute break versus the short one.

And that’s pretty much it! So it’s a very simple task but I find it to be very effective. If you work in a highly collaborative environment, you obviously can’t be in pomodoro-mode all day but I definitely think it’s okay to zone-in for periods of time.

So how’d my experiment go in writing this post?

I’d say pretty good. The bulk of the post was written in the first pomodoro despite my husband getting excited (and looking for my excitement) for the touchdown scored by the Giants. During my 5 minute break, I stirred the chili that’s been brewing all afternoon and threw some rice in the rice cooker. I’m confident I’ll finish the proofread and be able to schedule the posting before the next 25-minute buzzer goes off… so all in all, pretty good!

Have you tried the Pomodoro technique? Tell me what you think!

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