Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day?
The problem is, you can't make more time - we all have the same 24-hours - but you can apply constraints to it. It sounds counterintuitive, but constraints help you use the time you have better - that is why I love the Pomodoro Technique.
My explanation below is for complete beginners and includes how to do the technique, why it works, and the tools you need (spoiler alert: you only need one tool).
How to do it
First, you need a timer. I recommend an old fashioned kitchen timer (or something like this) rather than your mobile because the next thing you need to do is minimise distractions.
Take every possible step to ensure you are not distracted; for example, you might need to work in an alternative location, close your emails, hide your mobile, block the internet and/or wear noise-cancelling headphones.
When you are ready to start work:
- Set the timer for 25-minutes.
- Work on your task with complete focus.
- Take a five-minute break
Each 25-minute chunk is a Pomodoro; when you have done four (so, two hours of work), take an extended break.
If you are interested in the origin of the Pomodoro Technique, and what tomatoes have to do with productivity), I refer you to Wikipedia (not because it is the best source, but because it is time-efficient).
Why Does it Work?
The Pomodoro Technique works because it quickly forces you into focus mode (a state of flow), allowing you to get more done.
Parkinson's Law tells us work expands to fill the time assigned to it (case in point: a one-hour meeting will always last an hour, even if it could have been completed in 15-minutes). Once you are comfortable with the technique, designate a set number of Pomodoros (Pomodori?) to a task - once your time is up, ship your work.
Another benefit of this technique is accessibility - you only need a timer.
As I mentioned above, all you need is an old fashioned timer.
That said, if, like me, you love an app, try Forest; it gamifies the process because you plant virtual trees for each Pomodoro completed. If you disrupt the timer, you kill a virtual tree.
If you prefer something free and browser-based, then Pomofocus is ideal.
If you need additional accountability, try in-person or virtual co-working. Set an intention at the start of each Pomodoro and check-in at the end. Cuckoo is a free, web-based, shared timer you can use.
Over to You
How and when will you use the Pomodoro Technique? Let me know in the comments; I'd love to hear from you.