Admittedly, I’ve never been big on productive, I've gone with the flow. I keep things pretty simple. I write a daily to do list with things I need to get done and then I start hustling.
My father introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique years ago but I never implemented it until this past month, when I suddenly realized I needed a better method to getting my life organized. I have big plans for 2022 and what I'm currently doing wasn't lining up with my goals. I needed a new time management system to get all the tasks that I wanted complete: like my writing sessions, research sessions, reading, meal planning, house cleaning and looking after my son.
When I googled time management the Pomodoro Technique flashed up on my screen and the little voice inside said "oh I remember that system, This might work for you - Buy the book and give it a go." So I did.
I figured I should at least listen to my father all these years later and give this system a try. As I read about it I could see so many different people rant and rave about how it helped them greatly improve their focus and increase their productivity. So I thought what do I have to loose? and what could I gain from it? My thoughts were at least I might be able to identify a new tactic for tackling my never-ending to-do list. So I utilized this time management method for an entire week in order to share my findings.
What Is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. ... After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
Diagram Credit - Clockwise
The idea behind this technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible. I can do this!!
Additionally, the forced breaks help to cure the frazzled, burnt-out feeling most of us experience toward the end of the day. You can spend hours in front of your computer without even realizing it, so that ticking timer reminds you to get focused, get up when it rings and take a breather.
So I grabbed that tomato timer from the kitchen (Yes I have one, it gives me fond memories of a tomato timer in my nan's kitchen in England.) First off it has made things much easier, and I highly recommend it, if you’re planning on trying this yourself. If you want a timer get one on amazon or download a timer on your iPhone like Focus Keeper. Android users can use Pomodoro Technique Lite. If I’m being perfectly honest, I anticipated not liking this at all. I’m the type of person who tends to sit in front of her computer and hammer out four hours of work without so much as a bathroom break. Because I was so used to working in those long chunks of time (during which I thought I was being productive), the idea of splitting up my writing and daily to do list into manageable chunks and then wasting time on breaks seemed totally counterintuitive. How could working less actually help me accomplish more? The premise didn’t seem like it would work well with me. But I went for it anyway. My Results Let’s just get right to the point: what I thought was wrong. I actually ended up really liking this method—and it’s now the time management system I will use to accomplish my goals for the day. It will be adjusted on weekends or whenever my son is home. However the time he's at school I will be using this method to kick my productivity up a notch. At first, working through the small increments of time felt unnatural. There were quite a few times—especially in the beginning—when I was tempted to ignore the timer and continue working. But I forced myself to stick to the format.
After some time, the technique started to really gel with me. I was focused and super productive during my work time, as I was eager to get as much completed during that 25-minute interval as I could. I didn’t find myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or getting sucked in by my latest book on my TBR pile. As a notorious multitasker, I noticed that I was totally zoned in on the one project at hand. I was getting results. Once the timer sounded, I was forced to get up and give myself a rest from staring at my laptop screen or doing housework. What I found was that I actually did feel better at the end of each day. Not only did I feel like I had put in an honest day’s work, but I also felt less stressed, blurry-eyed, and cramped up. I had a plan and I was following it.
However, I wouldn’t be an honest writer if I didn’t outline at least one drawback. While it worked great on the days when all of my time was my own, aka those 6 hours my son was in school. It became quite complicated when I had be a mom with a son who needs attention and 50 snacks before dinner or a glass or water. I didn’t think my son or husband when he's home would react too favorably to me yelling, “Be back in five! My timer just went off!” in the middle of a conversation or family time!!
So I ended up just completely deactivating my timer during these pockets of time with my family and went with the flow of being a parent and a wife. YES! this means I bent the rules a bit, but I couldn’t figure out a better way to handle that situation. If you have some ideas let me know in the comments below! I know changing my mindset about time had to start with the idea that I use time rather than the other way around. This is why the Pomodoro Technique includes breaks from work rather than powering through because I know now my mind needs time to reorganize. When I now feel the fear of a deadline, I ask myself how can I use time to reduce the fear.
Conclusion All in all, I was surprised to find that I actually LOVED the Pomodoro Technique, and I think it lived up to its promises of making me more focused and productive. On the days where I had 6 hours alone I was able to use 10+ tomatoes a day (around 3.5 hours of productivity) I’m planning on using it every day when I have 20 minute slots of uninterrupted time.
What time management systems do you use to get through your work days or tasks? Have you tried this technique? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading