How can tomatoes help us with time management? Actually, it’s not the tomato per se, but the tomato-shaped kitchen timers that have become synonymous with the Pomodoro technique, a time management tool for people seeking focus in a world full of distractions.
The Pomodoro technique was developed in the 1980s by the entrepreneurFrancesco Cirillowhen he was a college student who was having trouble completing assignments. Cirillo found that by focusing his attention in small chunks of time with breaks in between, he was able to hold himself accountable and get more done. Cirillo started with 10-minute time segments, which then evolved into the 25-minute segments.
The Pomodoro technique is also a helpful tool for prioritizing work, as the process involves committing to doing a specific task, or set of small tasks, during the 25-minute segment. The first step involves creating a to-do list that includes the tasks that you know you need to do.
Put it into practice
Follow these steps for working in Pomodoros:
Create a to-do list.
Select a task from the list.
Set a timer to 25-minutes.
Work on the task until the timer signals that 25-minutes are complete.
Set the timer for 5-minutes and take a break. If you need to check email, do so during the break—or better yet, get up, stretch and grab a glass of water.
After doing 4 pomodoros (25-minute segments plus the 5-minute break), then take a longer 15 to 30-minute break.
Minimize distractions while working in a focused 25-minute Pomodoros. Even if the task you’ve selected makes you want to check email or messaging, avoid distractions and stay focused on the task itself. In fact, if you can, turn off or hide those apps and devices that distract with notifications.
Some of us at RoundTable have used Pomodoros to get through tasks that seemed impossibly large. Pomodoros help us break down big, complex tasks into workable segments, which we then complete in 25-minute increments. Completing one task then helps fuel the focus for the next.