Throughout January you’ve seen me posting organization articles leveraging a technique known as a pomodoro. I’ve had several people ask “what does that mean?” Today, I’ll outline what this technique is, how to use it, and why it works.
What’s a Pomodoro?
“The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Frencesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in lengh, seperated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for tomato, after the tomoato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.”
Very simply, it’s just breaking your work down into 25 minute intervals.
How to Use It
I think this is pretty obvious, but just in case, I’ll outline the steps. Before you jump right in, I find that making a todo list helps. As mentioned, breaking a large task down into smaller achievable chunks makes the technique more fulfilling, but if you just can’t seem to make the work smaller, the technique still works. Knowing what you need to accomplish, set a 25 minute timer. Jump right in and start working on it. When the timer goes off, take a short 5 minute break regardless if the current task is finished or not. Rinse and repeat. When leveraging this technique for extended periods, after 4 successive pomodoro’s take a slightly longer break of about 30 minutes.
Why It Works
For starters, it makes overwhelming tasks less overwhelming. Time boxing the amount of work you can do into short interval forces you to break it down into smaller chunks. These smaller chunks are often more manageable and ultimately lead to fulfilling the larger task at hand. I find it difficult to believe that you can’t spare 25 minutes of your day, especially if it’s to accomplish something you really want. For me, this was getting my entire house organized, which is why I started the pomodoro organization series. Each day I do my best to spend 25 minutes on one specific area of my home. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like much, but over time I look back and feel a great sense of accomplishment. To date, I’ve tackled my kitchen, living room, dining room, and just finished my bedroom. That was just January, imagine what a year of these activities could accomplish.
This technique can be applied to anything. For this blog, I’ve applied it to organization, but I also use it in other parts of my life. Last year I started having issues with my lower back resultant from sitting for long periods with bad posture. Sadly, I left it unchecked thinking it would eventually just get better… I was wrong. I’ve since resolved to make a habit of getting up and moving around… every 25 minutes. My back has started feeling better and I’ve actually been more productive with the work I’m doing.
Give this a shot in your life. Obviously you don’t have to use a tomato timer :). If you’re working in your house, use your smartphone. There are also tons of apps specifically for this technique. If you’re on a computer like me for long periods, I just use the built in google timer. Let me know how it works out for you, drop a comment on one of our social channels with hashtag #pomodoro.