The Pomodoro Technique: A time-blocking tool for focus

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The Pomodoro Technique is an effective time management method that has been used for decades to sharpen focusing skills to become more productive. In practice, the method is simple. All you do is select a task, set a timer for 25-minutes, and devote your sole attention to that task for that time period. After the 25-minutes is up, you give yourself a five-minute break and check that “Pomodoro” off as being completed.

For the system to best work its magic, have a customized system set up to minimize possible distractions. This method is an excellent way to conduct focus sessions and work only on what matters while enjoying the sweet successes as a result along the way. 

 The method was developed by Francesco Cirillo when he was a student in Italy in the 1980s. The reason it is called the Pomodoro Technique is due to the shape of the kitchen timer Cirillo used when developing the process. Since its inception, the Pomodoro Technique has become one of the most proven ways to combat procrastination and increase focus and productivity. It changes the way you work on things and the quality of how you do them, which as a result has astonishing effects on what you actually produce. It is also so easy that you quickly begin to really enjoy, and even crave, the process itself. In the end, for many, the Pomodoro Technique has become an integral part of how they operate in their lives.

pomodoro technique

The full technique is this: first, you choose a task you can devote 25-minutes to, and then you set the timer. Commit yourself solely to the task you have designated and don’t allow for interruptions during the allotted time. Make a promise to yourself that you will do this and make it happen. When the timer rings, you can stop. You may not actually want to stop at that point and that’s even better!

After you have completed the 25-minutes you committed to, you are allowed to take a five-minute break. You should take the opportunity to walk away from the computer and do something refreshing such as stretch, dance, have a cup of tea, or get a breath of fresh air. Just get in the mindset of enjoying the break and walk away from the “box”. Have a system in place where you can check off a completed session to see the pattern and you get to feel rewarded for each Pomodoro you knocked out. That in itself is also an extremely satisfying feeling and it comes from spending just 25-minutes. Then, when the five minutes is up you either return to the previous task and continue plugging through, or you choose another and you work for another 25-minutes, ideally followed by another break and repeat until you want to stop.  

These 25-minute blocks of time can be applied to anything you want to get done. But you can also use it as a guideline for a productive workday schedule. In this case, it is advised to do four 25-minute Pomodoro sessions, after which you should take a longer break, such as lunch, and then resume the process for the remainder of the day. 

The most important aspect of this method is making sure you honestly dedicate yourself fully during the time you have committed to. This literally means protecting yourself from any other distractions, including incoming phone calls, messages, or emails. You should also let those know who inadvertently tend to invade your workspace, that you are devoted to adopting this process. Most calls, messages, and emails can wait for 25-minutes, and if not there are systems in place to ensure you do receive notifications from specific people and are reachable in the case of an emergency. With the people in your surroundings, you will find that those who support your progress will easily accommodate your needs, that is if you clearly explain them. 

Let the Pomodoro Technique serve as a guideline for how to start focusing your attention on what matters most. But don’t let the specific timing of 25-minutes get you hung up, if you find you are more productive with plus or minus 5 minutes, then you can adjust the time to what works best for you. What matters is doing the process consistently as well as enjoying it as you do and seeing tangible improvement in your levels of productivity.

Why:  Save yourself time and be more mindful in life 

So many people are distracted for a majority of their time but don’t realize it. We have become skilled at the art of multitasking, which recent research has shown is not at all the most productive way to operate. In fact, findings of a study of multi-taskers and those who focused on one task at a time showed that multitaskers were actually worse at everything. In other words, we got it all wrong! 

Multitasking is believed to be an attribute and is something people boast about being good at.

But the truth is: to be your most productive self you should always engross yourself fully in whatever task it is you are doing.

What you should never do is constantly live your life distracted. What we all want is to enjoy life and savor each moment as they come. This program provides the precise tools for you to start working on paying attention to what matters most and being more mindful in your life.

We have a lot of distractions to contend with in our modern-day lifestyles, such as the nonstop notifications we receive via our phones or computers. Sometimes family members don’t realize when we are working or just how focused we are at that moment. People can interrupt us unintentionally and then find themselves the recipient of our brisk response. This is because our undivided attention was focused elsewhere and most likely, we were actually enjoying it. A simple interruption of any kind when in the flow of productivity, has been estimated to result in taking approximately 15-minutes afterward for someone to recover the same level of attention they had on the task they were previously working on. 

The Pomodoro Technique is a tool that can benefit anyone seeking to save time, be more focused and of course ultimately more productive in all endeavors. From this practice, you will condition yourself to be able to concentrate better and make fewer mistakes because of that. Furthermore, you will have established clear boundaries and the proper setup to prevent any possible interruptions. As a result, you work on what matters, your workload becomes lighter and you save yourself and others time and heartache in the future.   

Outcome: Feeling fulfilled in life and work is easy and can start with 25-minutes

The Pomodoro Technique works to streamline your focus when working on something. It trains you to be fully engaged during the time allotted, which will allow you to complete tasks faster. In time, you will also gain a better grasp of just how long it takes to complete certain tasks when you are able to fully immerse yourself in the process. You will most likely find that overall your workload in life lightens and you certainly will have fewer distractions. The focusing muscles that you build will make being present in your life and for the people around you much, much easier.

When you start really applying this method, you will probably end up becoming a fan, raving about its positive effects on your life to those around you. As a result, there will be even fewer interruptions allowing you to focus even more. But, there will also definitely be less passive communication between those you care about. You will hone your levels of concentration and become more organized through the experience, which will filter into other areas of your life. While it may seem hard to shut yourself off from all external distractions and to devote your sole attention to a single task at a time, you will find that your life will become significantly easier and much more fulfilling if you do.

The method is an excellent way to finally get a grasp on the things you have to do, but don’t want to do. Whether what you need to do seems too big to finish or is something you just don’t want to do, with the Pomodoro Technique you can at least start. Breaking down overwhelming projects into bite-sized chunks makes them digestible and much easier to swallow. This alone becomes a motivating factor to get you started jumping on those things you have been procrastinating because you don’t want to even start.  

Everyone can set aside 25-minutes for something, and the short burst of focused work means you don’t get burnt out. In other words, this tool is the best way to ensure you don’t get frustrated with what you are working on. With the relief in the knowledge that you can stop when the 25-minutes is up, you stop dreading getting started. What you didn’t want to do, to begin with suddenly, in just 25-minutes, becomes a success you can actually celebrate. With the right perspective, you can turn a negative thought into a positive one just that fast.

By practicing the method consistently, people reach a deeper understanding of just how long certain tasks really take and are able to plan properly for future tasks accordingly. Trust me, this knowledge alone saves time and gives you peace of mind in the long run. Doesn’t everyone want to stop feeling behind or rushed to finish deadlines at the last minute or even worse fail to submit on time in the first place? The rewarding sensation that comes from crossing off a completed task or “Pomodoro”, as it were, will also drive you to want to come back for more of these small successes. 

Exceptions: You say “timer”, I say “stopwatch”

Let’s admit it, some people can find the alert of a timer itself distracting and feel that interrupts their natural flow state. To that, I say use a stopwatch versus a timer. This is because with a stopwatch, you have to physically stop the clock yourself and there is no sound to alert you. This way, if you are in the flow of things you won’t know that 25-minutes has passed until you actually check the stopwatch itself. 

With a stopwatch, you can safeguard yourself from the timer disrupting you. You also protect your own flow state from being interrupted by only checking how much time has passed when you begin to lose momentum. If the task you are tackling is a repetitive one and you begin to feel bored, then check the stopwatch and see how little time you have left. I guarantee that step alone will give you a second wind to sail on through to the end. 

This technique was conceived 35 years ago, in an era when we didn’t have smartphones or the technology that we have at our disposal now. Cirillo used a kitchen timer because that is what he had. But these days we have a vast number of options as timers or stopwatches, starting with our phones. 

With practice, you will find that many times you are so immersed in what you are doing that the time passed will be longer than a Pomodoro. If you set a timer, however, it will do what it is made for, which in this case is to alert you to stop. Stopping is not necessarily the end game, and certainly not when you are “at the moment”. This is a time-blocking method intended to increase productivity and not hinder it when you are making serious headway.  

Recap: Reclaim your time, your work, and your mind!

There are a lot of distractions in our modern-day lifestyles and our inability to focus is not our fault. It is because of the way the world is today. Yet, we aren’t being taught how to handle it. Studies show students are only able to focus on one task for 65 seconds and office workers an average of three minutes. We tend to believe our lack of focus is due to our own incompetence, but there are actually some key causes in the way we live today that are affecting us all. With the right guidance and setup, we can take control of how we spend our time and make our technology work for us.  

We are not taught how to focus and be productive in school or at work. We have to actually seek out this knowledge ourselves. But, most of us are so distracted to begin with that we don’t even know we aren’t paying attention. Shocking recent study results show that we are so distracted in our everyday motions that we are actually missing out on up to 50% of our lives. This is because we are preoccupied as our lives continue to pass by. But, don’t you want to do everything in your power to make sure your life unfolds mindfully and in your control?

For the vast number of remote workers that are rapidly increasing in this day and age, it is especially important to relearn the reality that multitasking and diversions do not allow you to fully function in your workspace. By paying attention to just one thing at a time and seeing tangible results for it, the process soon becomes extremely satisfying, which will make you happy. In fact, it ends up driving a desire to ensure that all of the elements in your life are in place so that you can always be at your full potential for productivity.  

Focusing on a single task for a significant amount of time will inevitably build up your attention muscles as this technique is basically a form of focus training. It is especially beneficial for those with ADHD or in jobs that involve repetitive work. But, the Pomodoro Technique can be applied to any area of life from office work to gardening. The regular intervals of breaks are of vital importance for those who work on computers for hours. The method serves as an ideal time schedule to follow for a productive workday. No matter what the job at hand, it doesn’t feel too daunting, especially since you will always have a break waiting closely on the horizon. 

The clear boundaries you establish for yourself in order to devote your undivided attention for the purpose of productivity will only help to fortify your relationships with others, personal, professional, or otherwise. People who care about you will want to support your progress and it may have a ripple effect inspiring others to be more productive in their own lives. 

At work, you will no longer struggle with meeting deadlines or feel like you have not performed at 100%. The process increases motivation eases workload estimations and allows for accurate planning in the future. But most of all, these short bursts of focus prevent mental fatigue and keep your energy levels peaked throughout the process. And not only does practice make perfect, but you will quickly learn that fewer distractions result in better quality, especially when it comes to paying full attention to your life. 

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