Are You Busy Or Productive?
I'm all about productivity.
There's always that assumption out there that if someone is 'busy' or 'working' they're really kicking ass and getting things done... little do you know that's rarely the case.
With endless distractions, lack of will and no structure to what you're doing it comes as no surprise that at times little is accomplished.
It's about working smart.
Working hard often leaves us frustrated as we rack our brains for hours and fail to get anything done. The Pomodoro technique is all about working smart in short bursts - ensuring you stay on track and do not allow your willpower to deplete during each Pomodoro.
The Pomodoro Technique
Created in the 1980's by Franceso Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique is am easy to follow time management protocol that doesn't require any fancy Apps or tools.
The Pomdoro Technique gets its name from the old Tomato style timer, Cirillo originally used a Tomato timer for his intervals... hence the name (Pomodoro means tomato in Italian).
A pen, paper and a time (tomato timer) is all you need.
Cirillo recommends a physical timer, whether this is a tomato timer or not is up to you, if not the timer on your phone, watch or alarm clock will do the exact same job.
"The creator and his proponents encourage a low-tech approach, using a mechanical timer, paper and pencil. The physical act of winding the timer confirms the user's determination to start the task; ticking externalises desire to complete the task; ringing announces a break. Flow and focus become associated with these physical stimuli."
There's also Apps and websites you can utilize for the Pomodoro technique such as
Here's how to implement the Pomodoro technique:
- Create a list of tasks that must be accomplished for the day
- Set your timer for 25 minutes
- Mark an 'X' on your piece of paper after the first 25 minutes
- Take a 3 - 5 minute break between your first 3 Pomadoro sequences
- After you've marked down your fourth 'X' on your piece of paper take an extended break for 15 - 30 minutes
- If any distractions or thoughts arise during your Pomodoro don't stop! Instead just write them down on your paper and deal or schedule them during your break intervals.
Once you've marked your four X's on your paper and had your extended break (at which point you will have done 100 minutes of productive work) it's time to 'reset' so to speak and erase your X's and proceed back to the start.
Once a Pomdoro (25 minute interval) has been started distractions should fall to the wayside.
When interrupted during a pomodoro, either the other activity must be recorded and postponed
(inform – negotiate – schedule – call back) or the pomodoro must be abandoned.
As an Entrepreneur working on a solo project this isn't particularly relevant for me, however in a corporate or office job with other employees, phones ringing etc. the above 4 step procedure is a must as jumping from one task to the next inside one interval defeats the purpose of the Pomodoro technique and time management in general.
Is The Pomodoro Technique For You?
The Pomodoro technique isn't for everyone.
Give it a try and see if it works for you, keeping in mind it days 2 - 3 days of using the Pomdoro technique to really get into the swing of it and up to a month to master this interval style of time management.
I personally find the Pomodoro technique fantastic for certain tasks, I don't use it every single day however when I'm working on a creative project (like writing a motivational article or creating a summary for the Ignore Limits Book Club) the creative process of putting pen to paper and ensuring the end result is to a standard I'm happy with can be quite mentally fatiguing.
Instead of sitting down for hours trying to force myself to finish the task at hand in one sitting the Pomodoro technique makes it far easier. 25 minutes of work, 3 - 5 minutes of break. Although this is a relatively short break period in comparison to other forms of productivity and time management it's enough to 'reset' so to speak and to come back to project in-front of me feeling fresh.
Give the Pomodoro technique a try but first make sure you've got a concrete to-do list.
As I said earlier, busy-ness and productivity are often confused... if you don't know what you're meant to be doing you're essentially firing without a target in mind, there's no way you can win.
As Cirillo said, a physical tomato timer can act as a mental trigger that engages your state of focus, as we're all too often on our smart phones I don't find using that timer to have the same association with productivity.
I recommend picking up a Tomato Timer for a few bucks.
What's Your Take On The Pomodoro Technique? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!