Improve Your Work Day With Pomodoro Technique
It may be a new year, you may have a new role, or you may have recently shifted on to another career path. Whatever’s up with you, it’s worth considering the ‘pomodoro technique’, or at least considering if some of its fundamental principles can help you to make a few tweaks in your current way of doing things, from 9 to 5 in particular. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll be convinced. It not, you’ll have a new insight into a new trend which may help you spot the signs when your boss or co-workers seem to be acting a little differently from the norm.
The Pomo what?
The Pomodoro Technique is not an awkward, difficult to achieve yoga or martial art maneuver; no, it is actually a managerial strategy originated by Francesco Cirillo. He decided to name it that way due to a tomato-shaped timer he used when he was studying in college. The timer was used by him to help him manage his time more effectively, so his ‘big ticket’ idea was to do with increasing productivity via having more intense periods of work punctuated by short, revitalizing time-outs.
On your marks
Each day is like a race, isn’t it? You’re at the starting-block (or office desk!), waiting for the gun to go off. Before you’ve begun the race, you should make a list of all the things you want to accomplish that day, all the hurdles, so to speak, you want to overcome before you get to the finish line.
Okay, so you’re ready to get on with your first task, whatever that should be. You should set your timer to no more than twenty-five minutes and then get cracking. At times when you get distracted, make a note of where you’re up to, stop the timer, so you can restart it and carry on once the distraction ends. When that 25 minutes are up, you should down tools. Congratulations – you’ve completed your first pomodoro of the day. Take a 5-minute time-out and then embark upon your next pomodoro. Keep doing this over and over again, until you’ve completed all the tasks you set out to achieve.
Time management: it’s a horrible phrase (how can one manage time, after all?!), but is crucial in terms of helping you take back control over what you do throughout your working day. Interruptions are deadly, so consider the following formula: “inform → negotiate → schedule → call back”. It is vital that you accomplish what you set out to accomplish in those short 25 minute slots; unless it’s an emergency you can liaise with someone to touch base with them once you’re done. You can write down things that are distractions and come back to them once the real work is complete.
Accountability: certain professions, especially law, require a detailed breakdown of time versus cost so that clients can see exactly what they’re getting for their money. Most jobs don’t require you to do likewise, but it is a useful habit to inculcate. It’s useful both for you to feel a sense of satisfaction, and for bosses or managers to know what you’ve been doing on any given day.
Better planning: many jobs involve projects or tasks which tend to take x amount of time to complete. If you can break this down into pomodori, so to speak, then it could be very useful in knowing how many pomodori to assign to future projects or tasks of a similar nature. Writers or researchers, for example, can get into the habit of knowing it takes x pomodori to do one part of the preparatory work and y pomodori to complete it.
Back and brain: the concept of getting up and walking around after every 25 minutes is extremely good news for your spinal discs and mental faculties. Most neck, shoulder, and back pain are linked to sitting in just one position for an extended amount of time, while it is well known that, for your brain, a change is as good as a rest. An ergonomic office chair can be an expensive acquisition; better to walk around every 25 minutes, or better still, do your work at a standing desk so there’s no temptation to go beyond the 25 minutes.
Motivation: there is an element of competition and ‘personal best’ mentality that comes into play when you are racing against the clock. Giving yourself short targets and time frames help to chunk down large tasks into manageable portions. Imagine, for example, being given all of the food you consume in a week at one sitting, and were ordered to take a long, hard look at it; it would make you sick! The same concept holds true with breaking your week’s work into more palatable, bite-size pockets of time.
Overall, the Pomodoro technique is stunningly simple yet makes sense on so many different levels. Why not give it a go? You’ve got nothing to lose, except your procrastination, daydreaming, and a series of neck and back complaints!