Learning how to Pomodoro effectively is probably the one thing you need to ramp up your productivity and end procrastination.
If you’ve never tried it before, then you’re in for a treat.
I first heard about it when I was a university student eight years ago and one of the students in my mentoring group was having a lot of difficulty with getting things done.
He had his hands on too many pies at the same time so his productivity was down.
Our mentor suggested the Pomodoro Technique and taught us the skill. I’ve been doing it on and off since – and this was mostly on after I started blogging.
And I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Combine it with the other 3 systems I mentioned in How To Get More Free Time and you’ll have a vastly efficient working system that means you get more things done in less time – resulting in more free time for you to do all the things you want in life.
But first, what’s a Pomodoro?
How To Get More Free Time – Written specifically for multitasking, creative free spirits like myself, this post will give you 3 actionable tips you need to get more free time.
Plus: A list of 4 personal time management systems that will help you accomplish your tasks in as little time as possible – resulting in more free time for all the other things you want to do.
What Pomodoro means
If you haven’t already guessed, Pomodoro means tomatoes.
The system developer, Francisco Cirillo named the technique after Pomodoro timers that are supposedly common in Italian kitchens.
Because you need a timer for this technique to work and, I reckon, it’s meant to show just how easy to do it really is. All you need is something you’ve always had in your kitchen and follow the steps.
So, what are the steps?
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How to Pomodoro Step 1: Select your task.
The first step is obviously to set which task you’ll be doing for a particular time.
You can just make a mental note of it but we find that it’s a lot easier when you have it written down somewhere prominent.
It’s all but useless if you write it down a scrap of paper and then dump it in your purse, never to see the light of day.
You can use a journal or you can just pop it in a calendar.
Because we use a calendar as a sort-of catch-all, we need a supersized calendar that hangs where everybody can see it. It’s not even $20 so it’s a proper bargain.
How To Use A Journal – Learn why you absolutely need to start a journal habit, how to start so you actually make it into a habit and what you need to pay attention to when you’re journaling.
How to Pomodoro Step 2: Set your timer.
To do that, you can just click on the Toggl icon or use the free app you can download off Google Play or the App Store.
Or, if you don’t want to use your phone (And who can blame you? Those things are super distracting!), then you can use an analogue timer.
The one above is what we use and it’s survived the battering our toddler likes to give all his favourite toys. In other words, we can say for certain that this one is durable and worth your money.
How to Pomodoro Step 3: Focus on the task.
The third step involves bearing down and focusing on the task you have set.
For 25 minutes, that’s all you think about.
You don’t multi-task with the Pomodoro Technique. You give one task your all for the time you have set.
If you suddenly remember another task you have to do and you’re worried that you’ll forget it, then pause, write it down on a piece of paper and keep going with the original task.
How to Pomodoro Step 4: Honour your breaks.
Fourth, when the Pomodoro rings, you put a checkmark on your to-do list and celebrate for five minutes.
This 5 minute-break is your fifth step.
You have just completed one interruption-less Pomodoro session.
How to Pomodoro Step 5: Give yourself a longer break.
The final step is really just to give yourself a longer break.
After four Pomodoro sessions, you can give yourself a 20-30 minute break during which you think or do something completely unrelated to the task at hand. This will help your brain assimilate the information you’ve gathered and refresh you for the next round of intensive work.
Sounds simple? That’s because it is. When we use it, we found that because we know we only have 25 minutes to work with, we keep going without any interruption.
How to Pomodoro Step 6: Rinse and repeat.
And you just keep repeating the cycle for as long as you need to.
How to Pomodoro Step 7: Adjust according to your needs.
I personally adapt this technique to suit my needs and I recommend that you do too.
If you can’t do 25 minutes, make the increments shorter or, if you can swing it, a lot longer.
There are some that say 90-minute increments are better for those times when you’re in the flow and that interrupting yourself every 25 minutes is counter-productive.
I personally don’t find this to be the case but I struggle with maintaining longer stretches of concentration at a time.
You might have the opposite problem.
Also, we have a high-needs active toddler who needs a lot of attention.
We found that he can wait 25 minutes for us to finish a task but then needs some one-on-one time afterwards.
Sometimes, we end up having to take longer breaks (10 minutes or so instead of 5, for example) to give him the positive attention he needs. Otherwise, he’ll start trying to get our attention by acting up – resulting in frustration on our part and tantrums on his.
So, to set us all up for success, we give him positive attention during the 5-minute break as intervention instead of waiting for him to act up and then giving him negative attention.
Parenting With Respect – A full list of resources to help you understand the concept of parenting a child whilst respecting the fact that said child is his own human person, albeit a tiny one whose brain hasn’t fully developed yet.
Final thoughts on how to Pomodoro effectively
As you can see, the Pomodoro Technique is deceptively simple.
You simply use your timer, break down work into small 25-minute chunks of time, separated by a 5-minute break. After 4 Pomodoros, you can give yourself a longer break of about 30 minutes or so.
Personally, this has been especially helpful for me because it curbs my tendency to try and multitask even important things (no, it doesn’t work well most times) and forces me to just start (great when I have problems with resistance and procrastination).
Try it out and see how it works for you.