How you spend your time determines the value that you place on it. We are all managers of time, and yet time often manages us. We want to do better, but coming up with a routine time management technique can be challenging. If you’re looking for a more efficient way to utilize your time during the workday, the simple Pomodoro Technique may become your new best friend.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, a crafty university student seeking to find a better way to get more done in less time.

Inspired by the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he had in his dorm room, Francesco named his productivity routine after the Italian word “pomodoro,” which translates to “tomato.”

Why use it?

The Pomodoro Technique aims to limit distractions that often upset the flow of work. Many times during our workday, we are distracted by those squirrel moments that lead us down paths to unproductivity. With regular intervals of segmented work, we develop patterns that create habits that keep us focused on the task at hand.

How does the Pomodoro Technique work?

In its purest form, the Pomodoro Technique breaks down to six easy-to-implement steps. This time management process’s execution can be tweaked to fit almost any lifestyle, provided it follows these fundamental steps:

  • Step 1: Decide on the task to be performed.
  • Step 2: Set the Pomodoro timer (or any mechanical kitchen timer).
  • Step 3: Work away at the specified task.
  • Step 4: When the timer rings stop working and record a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  • Step 5: If you have less than four checkmarks, take a quick 2-3 minute break and then return to step two. If you have more than four checkmarks, move on to step 6.
  • Step 6: After four checkmarks or Pomodoros, take a longer 15-30 minute break, clear your checkmarks, and then reset to step 1 and repeat the cycle

What are the rules?

The Pomodoro recommendation is to set the timer 25 minutes in length; however, you can set your time to whatever suits your workflow. Also, be sure to line up your Pomodoros with lunchtime or any other specific milestones in your day.

Best practice with this time management method is not to use digital timers and virtual notepads. The physical act of setting a timer queues your brain that it’s time to work; the mechanical timer’s ticking sound sets a subtle pressure to complete the task. The completed Pomodoro’s ringing sound, and writing the checkmark signals a break and offers a pleasant reward. Each physical stimuli triggers a greater focus on flow and routine in the brain.

What if I complete my task before the timer is up?

There is one golden rule when it comes to the Pomodoro Technique: When the Pomodoro begins, it must end with a ring.

Just because you may have completed your task, you don’t get an extended break. Use that time to reflect and learn from the task you completed. You can also use this time to fill in your online timesheet.

The fundamental takeaway is that when the timer is ticking, stay working, and resist the temptation to break your workflow. Unless it’s related to your job, resist opening emails, or checking social media when you’re still in your Pomodoro. Stay focused and reflective of the work you had just completed.

What’s the best way to start using the Pomodoro Technique?

Preparation is the first step before you begin any meaningful work. Planning all of your tasks ahead of your day and having a well-groomed “to-do list” is crucial to maintaining a well structured Pomodoro workday. Make it a task to prepare the tasks to work on the next day.

During preparation, rough estimating the time required to complete each task will help layout your day and how many Pomodoros you will need to complete it.

Also, checking tasks off your list gives you a sense of fulfillment and gives you the boost to move on to the next task.

In conclusion

Time management is all about finding a process that works for you. Suppose you’re motivated by the accomplishment of ticking items off a list or driven by established cycles, then the Pomodoro Technique is worth a try.

Organizing your workday into bite-sized flowing pieces gives you stackable layers of work fulfillment. Finding flow in your work is crucial to slay your task to-do list efficiently. And nothing feels more satisfying than getting added work done when you’re saving time.


About the Author

For 30 years, Dovico has been providing time tracking and timesheet software for clients worldwide. Manage your projects and teams, capture time and generate reports.

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