The workplace is fueled by a constant need and desire to work more and to work better.
Employees and employers alike use a variety of time management tools and software to help them achieve desired results in the least amount of time.
And in this distraction-prone world, you need them, too. You probably do not need definite numbers and statistics to prove that this is the age of distraction. Look no further than yourself and your co-worker at the adjacent desk. There’s the distraction of your Instagram feed, a stock quote, the latest tweet by Elon Musk, and your own thoughts when you see any of the above. The world and your mind are set up to aid you in achieving less it seems. You end up feeling helpless, scattered, overwhelmed, and like you could be doing so much better.
There is a productivity technique for this distraction-prone culture- a very simple one- that will improve your efficiency manifold. It’s called the Pomodoro technique.
What It Means To Be Productive
While a straightforward definition would be ‘getting the most done in the least possible time’, there is another way to look at productivity.
You get the most done in the least possible time, in a manner that feels satisfying and maybe even a little bit (gasp!) fun.
If this hasn’t been your definition of productivity, the Pomodoro technique might make it so.
The Pomodoro technique
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and inspired by the tomato-shaped timer he used during his university days, the Pomodoro technique works by breaking down tasks into 25-minute chunks and separated by short breaks.
Each interval is called Pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato. Below are the 6 steps for trying this method yourself:
- Select a task that you want to complete, big or small; monotonous or scary.
- Set a timer (for 25 minutes traditionally).
- Work on the task.
- When the timer goes off, check off the completion of your 1st slot.
- If you have less than 4 check marks, take a short break of 3-5 minutes. Then begin from step 2.
- After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. When you return to the task, start from step 1 again.
The Pomodoro i.e. the 25-minute time slot during which you are working is uninterruptible and indivisible. If an interruption arises, you either say yes to it and abandon the Pomodoro to begin again, or you say no to the interruption and attend to it later.
The first signs of positive effects will be visible in just 2-3 days. For a completely new relationship to your work and tasks, try the technique consistently for a month.
Why the Technique Works?
Supports flow and focus
Yes, in our stimulus-heavy culture, the focus isn’t a strong point for many. Even our brain isn’t used to the act of being 100% immersed in a task. But when you only have 25 minutes in which to focus, distractions melt away on their own. There is the promise of a break at the end of 25 minutes, and when you focus solely on the task at hand during those 25 minutes, you enter into a juicy state of focus and flow. Yes, you are sprinting.
Makes that one dreaded task doable
We all have that one dreaded task on our to-do lists which we can’t get around to finishing.
The Pomodoro technique helps us to overcome resistance and get the task done by breaking it into manageable, realistic, doable 25-minute chunks.
Before you know it, the monster is off your to-do list. Hurray!
Gets you sprinting
There is something about seeing a timer tick away that makes your fingers fly fast over a keyboard.
When you are in the flow and you know that after 25 minutes, you’ll have to take a break (please don’t break the rules), you’ll work much faster to make the most of those 25 minutes.
The result? You’ll finish 2-3 tasks in a day which would have taken you 2-3 days previously. Once you begin using the technique consistently, you’ll be able to see how long it actually takes you to complete tasks and craft your to-do list accordingly.
Gives regular doses of accomplishment
After every 25 minutes, you have a fair and clear idea of what you have accomplished in that chunk. If you completed a segment of your task, yay! You don’t need to wait 2 hours to give yourself a pat on the back. Each component of work completed in the span of 25 minutes is an accomplishment and gears you up for the next 25-minute round.
Gets you to the washroom
And gets you to drink water + pace around your office for a short walk. Most people are prone to working for 2-4 hour chunks with not even a single bathroom break or walk in between. Which, admittedly, isn’t that great for your health when repeated for more than half of your lifetime.
Because you know you have to be back at your desk within 3-5 minutes and you are in the flow of things, you’ll resist getting caught up on your screen. If you are susceptible, save those check-ins for the longer breaks and use the shorter ones to do some breathing exercises, stretch your legs a bit, or go to the loo. Anything that isn’t work-related.
Productivity and efficient time-management do not have to be far-fetched dreams and traits that are reserved for your CEO, your manager, or the colleague who gets the Employee of the Month award. These qualities are possible for you, too. And with the Pomodoro technique, you can make that possibility a reality very quickly for the long-term.
Drumroll, please. It’s time to welcome The Era of a More Efficient and Productive You.