We all know the pain of trying to find quality focus time to complete those important tasks, all too often multi-tasking to little effect or multiple interruptions. Enter the pomodoro technique, the concept is a simple one but one that can be very effective if done right.
With the technique you set yourself a period of time (usually 25 minutes) to focus on one task, no interruptions and no multi-tasking. Facebook and other distractions gone, headphones on and locked into a time period with a specific task based focus. That’s not to say you have to finish that task within the period, some tasks may take multiple pomodoro’s, however it is a period where that is your sole focus.
Developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, he named it after his kitchen timer which was in the shape of a tomato (which just so happens to be pomodoro in Italian).
However there is another key part to the technique, one of rewards. After each pomodoro you should take a set break, this is usually 5 minutes with a longer break after 4 pomodoro’s which is usually around 15-20 minutes. Of course the key here is to find activities that don’t run over those set break times.
Ideas for your 5 minute pomodoro break
- Take a walk and stretch your legs whilst also giving your eyes a rest from your screen.
- Make a tea or coffee.
- Play a short game or browse social media (But beware of time creep!)
- Have a chat with colleagues, friends or family.
- Practice some breathing exercises.
Of course there have been big changes since the 1980’s concept of using a kitchen timer, these days there are countless apps available to help you manage the pomodoro technique.
Five great apps for the pomodoro technique
- Clockwork Tomato (Android)
- ClearFocus (Android)
- Focus Time (iOS)
- Pomodoro Keeper (iOS)
- Tomighty (Windows & Mac Desktop)
One other development from a technology point of view is integration with the technique and project management tools. There are several integrations with services such as Trello or standalone services that offer the full service, not only using the technique for time management but then allowing you to easily merge that concept with managing your tasks.
These services include Team Viz which delivers a full task tracking solution through a GTD (Getting Things Done) concept. Alternatively Google Chrome plugins such as Pomello offer integration with your Trello boards (There are several services that offer similar integrations).
The technique is a simple one, set time blocks where you focus on one task – no excuses. It’s not the only technique out there of course, there are a multitude of different techniques and new apps designed to help you managed your time with your tasks and we’ll cover more of them another time.
If your struggling to get those tasks done either from procrastination or simply having too much distractions and then why not give it a try? Get the timer out (or your favourite app) and hit start and get your focus on today.