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The Pomodoro Technique

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Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro Technique in the 1980s. When Francesco was in college, he found himself overwhelmed by his workload, without the discipline necessary to complete his studies on time. He did what many people do. He started to bargain with himself, believing that if he could get himself to sit and work for 10 minutes at a clip, he would complete all the work he set out to accomplish. Off to his kitchen, he sauntered to find a timer in the shape of a Pomodoro tomato, no less, and the Pomodoro Technique was born! 

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Simply put, it’s a time management framework created to improve focus and productivity. It helps you learn to work within your time rather than struggling to work against it. What makes it as effective as it is, is the simplicity of the process.

The 6 Steps of the Pomodoro Technique:

  1. Choose a task: Choose one thing and one thing only to focus on at a time. This can be anything from your to-do list. It can be something you’ve been pushing off for a while or something time relevant. It should be something that can be completed within an hour’s time.
  1. Focus: This may be hard for many people beginning their journey using this method. You need to close out all distractions. That means putting all your electronic devices on do not disturb, closing your office door, turning on a white noise machine, or any other strategy you employ to allow yourself a quiet, 25-minute distraction-free work zone.  
  1. Work: Here is where you do the work. Pick one task to focus on, set your timer for 25 minutes, and go. The concept of the Pomodoro technique is that there is no pause or break button. You stick with your chosen task until it’s complete or until your 25-minute timer goes off.
  1. Short Break: Congrats! Your session is complete, and you’ve earned your first break. Step away from your desk for five minutes. Do something invigorating, e.g., stretch, take a few deep breaths, grab a coffee, and …. 
  1. Repeat: Back you go. Repeat the process. The Pomodoro technique has you repeat this process four times. After the fourth round, you move on to the last step.
  1. Long Break: Once you’ve completed your four 25-minute deep work sessions, you get a long, well-deserved break. Your long break consists of 20-30 minutes of free time. This extended break is supposed to help you clear your mind so you can return to your desk fully refreshed and ready to start again. Maybe you want to take a brisk walk, a short yoga class, or spend time with a friend. Either way, choose something that restores you but don’t get sidetracked and lose the point of the short break.  

To ensure you get the most out of each Pomodoro session, you should include these three strategies in each interval: 

  1. Break complex projects or tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. If you have a task requiring more than 4 Pomodoros to complete, then you should break the task down into smaller, more actionable steps. This tip will help you make clear progress that you can see.  
  1. Batch-like tasks with like tasks. This gives you one Pomodoro session to get into the groove and stay there until you’re done. Alternatively, if you can, try to put all small tasks into one Pomodoro. For example, anything that takes less than a minute or two can get done in one session, such as setting appointments and paying bills.  
  1. The Pomodoro is an invisible unit of time that you must protect by not allowing anything to interfere with or interrupt. Once a Pomodoro is set, it must ring. Any intruding thoughts, ideas, or tasks that come up should be noted so you can circle back to them later.  

What happens if you finish your work before your Pomodoro is up? 

The best thing to do for consistency purposes is not to stop when you are done unless the timer rings. Instead, take the extra time to hone your skill, deepen the scope of your knowledge on a subject you’re working on, or use it for networking opportunities or professional research. By staying consistent, you are training yourself mentally to focus for short spurts of time. This will make you more efficient as time goes on.

What makes the Pomodoro technique such a helpful tool?  

For most, when they are faced with a large project or a series of small tasks that need to get done, it isn’t easy to get started. There are feelings of overwhelm, not knowing where to start, or having difficulty maintaining motivation. By breaking projects or tasks down into smaller segments, followed by varying length breaks, you create an easy way to tackle the most difficult of projects until they’re complete.

When you use this methodology the right way, you accomplish everything you need to get done and want to get done. The reason the technique is popular is that it breeds consistency and efficiency. Willpower and motivation are not enough to keep most people accountable. The Pomodoro method makes it easier to get things done consistently and in the most efficient manner.

Did you know freelancers and students most often use the Pomodoro technique? It’s an excellent tool for anyone who sets their own work schedule. If you’re a freelancer needing a corporate presence to establish your business in a new locale or need office support, such as live call answer, or inbound/outbound call transfer, think of an Opus Virtual Office. At Opus, VO, we’ll take over the administrative workload so you can do your deep work and focus on what your business needs most!

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