What if there was a simple productivity system that allowed you to get an incredible amount of work done, maximize your profits and have more free time to enjoy life? Best yet, it requires no extensive implementation and is free.
Sound too good to be true? It's not. This simple system is called the Pomodoro Technique and many entrepreneurs swear by its transformative effect in their quest to beat back stress and distraction, especially of the technological kind.
How it Works
Pomodoro Technique breaks down task-work into 25-minute increments. You set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a selected task for that duration of time. Then you take a five minute break. After four "pomodori," take a longer break, 15-30 minutes.
Photographer and Pomodoro adherent Shuli Hallak explains it thusly: "When the 25 minute clock is on, I know that I am not checking external distractions like texts, tweets, emails (unless it's a task), or anything else unless it's urgent. It feels great to hone in on what you really need to accomplish for the day and then just do it, with laser focused effort."
You can focus on a particular task for as many 25-minute pomodori as you need, but you may be surprised at how quickly you end up moving through your task list. "I like breaking down my tasks for the day and then pummeling through them with methodical efficiency," explains Hallak
Where it Comes From
According to Wikipedia, "The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called 'Pomodori' (from the Italian word for 'tomatoes') separated by short breaks." It's become particulary popular in software development circles.
Why a tomato? Italian egg timers were often shaped like them.
What You Need
An egg timer (or a countdown timer on your phone) is really all you need. You can get "fancier" with Pomodoro software that helps you organize tasks, but really you don't necessarily need that to use Pomodoro Technique.
Who It's For
Because of its simplicity, the Pomodoro Technique can work for anyone, but it's particularly useful for entrepreneurs who are forced to wear a million hats, anyone who struggles to finish complex projects and people who are prone to distraction.
Why It Works
Pomodoro Technique may seem deceptively simple but it helps people knock out their to-do lists incredibly fast. Hallak explains: "It also keeps the tasks in check so you don't fall down any rabbit holes, like researching something online which can lead to endless hours of accidental learning. The clock is ticking; get the job done. Then you get a break."
Make a list of your tasks. Set a timer for 25 minutes and do as much as you can in that 25 minute period. Take a five-minute break between tasks. After 5 "pomodori" assess where you stand from the point of view of your overall to-do list.
Pomodoro Gets Social
It's particulary effective to pratice the Pomodoro Technique in a group. That's how Hallak does it, as a part of a group at coworking space New Work City. In the true spirit of co-working," she says, "a group of us decided to have a dedicated Pomodoro day. Because we worked as a group, what ended up happening is that we created this really intense zone of focus during the 25 minute Pomodoros.
If you'd like to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out Pomodoro Technique Illustrated: Can You Focus - Really Focus - for 25 Minutes? By Staffan Noteberg. Orkanizer is also a good free online Pomodoro Technique organizer.