The Pomodoro Technique: An Introduction
The infamous Pomodoro technique is arguably one of the best productivity methods you can use in your daily life. Everyone nowadays agrees that it’s crucial for nourishing a productivity-oriented lifestyle.
If you happen to be looking for ways to perfect the Pomodoro technique, look no further because we've got you covered here with everything you need to know, from the Pomodoro origins to the tools that can guide you through your journey. Here's everything you need to know.
What's the Pomodoro Technique?
If you've taken an Italian language course at some point in your life, you may have already figured out that this technique originated in Italy. The word “Pomodoro” means tomato in Italian and is the word Franseco Crillio used to describe this method.
In the late 1980s, university student Franseco Crillio was having trouble keeping himself focused on his tasks, much like the trouble we face nowadays. However, Crillio figured out that he could change that by applying some behavioral changes, that is after he wrote a hundred-page long book about the topic, of course!
First off, he decided to divide a task into several periods, so it'll be easier to tackle, then he broke up these periods with short breaks. To implement this idea, he used a tomato-shaped timer from the kitchen, hence, the tomato-inspired name for this technique.
The Preliminary Steps
A 130-long book is hard to get through, especially if you're looking only for a few steps or bullet-pointed directions. But you don't need to read the book because we've listed the steps for the original Pomodoro technique.
Basically, the original Pomodoro technique boils down to these steps:
- Prepare a timer and a to-do list of all your tasks.
- Set your timer at 25 minutes, and make sure you focus on your task until the timer rings.
- After the second step is done, you can tick off one Pomodoro and take a 5-minute break.
- Repeat until four Pomodoros.
- Once you reach your fifth Pomodoro, take longer, more relaxing breaks that last 15-30 minutes.
Why do so many people think the Pomodoro technique works, you ask? The reasoning Crillio offered is that this method helps you understand how much a task can take of your time by recording how you occupy your time.
Therefore, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of situation; it doesn't promise that you'll finish tasks in a set amount of time. In fact, the Pomodoro technique is highly subjective as it'll help you finish various tasks at your own pace with the least amount of time possible! This is why this method has worked for hundreds of people.
Now that you understand the reasoning and the initial steps of this technique, we'll explain why it works for most people.
An Easy Way Out of the Slump
Slumps caused by procrastination aren’t usually caused due to laziness or your inability to control your productivity; it's rather the product of you putting stressful tasks aside to avoid the negative feelings associated with it.
You know what we're talking about – that task that you have no idea how to tackle or that complex project that involves a lot of unresolved issues might be the reason you're procrastinating and, eventually, get into a slump.
The best way to get out of this vicious cycle is to break down your tasks into smaller, less intimidating sections. Sure, it might take you a long time to finish it all up, but the important thing here is that the task becomes doable!
Adding Games Into the Mix
There’s something about games that makes finishing a task much more manageable. For example, when it comes to video games, players are ready to complete several side quests without spending hours doing anything but these quests.
If you're one of those people who don't mind making a game out of a task, you'll find the Pomodoro application very agreeable to you!
Moreover, if you really look into the structure of the Pomodoro technique, you'll find that it's more about maintaining a consistent effort, not striving to achieve perfection, much like what other productivity methods promote.
For these reasons, you'll be able to gamify your task by creating challenges and overcoming them with a number of Pomodoros.
A Fresh Perspective on Time
Let's be honest, at some point, everyone underestimated how much time a task could take due to a productivity burst of energy clouding their perception.
Don't worry because this doesn't mean you're bad at planning; it simply means that you succumbed to the planning fallacy, which many people, particularly students, fall for. The planning fallacy forces people to miss deadlines and, therefore, negatively affects their time on this project.
With the Pomodoro technique, you won't have to worry about having ideal future thoughts and failing to achieve them. In fact, this technique will encourage you to have realistic ideas about how a task can be completed, no matter how difficult or complex it is.
We've already discussed how you can use the Pomodoro technique, but keep on reading because we'll delve into the process in more detail.
To-Do List and Total Time
Firstly, you should start by putting together a solid to-do list that caters to your priorities and lists the dates when you need tasks finished. This will help you finish your tasks with the Pomodoro technique at the right times.
Once you get this out of the way, you can estimate how much a task will take. Your calculations don't necessarily have to be correct, as it's hard to predict how much time a task will take without actually doing it.
The Pomodoro will be a great reference in this regard. Once you've figured out that a task takes about 10 Pomodoros to be done, similar tasks should take the same amount of Pomodoros, give or take.
After all, you're trying to understand how long a task will take, not how you can finish it in an hour.
Timers and Pomodoros
As we've mentioned earlier, the Pomodoro technique depends on you finishing your tasks within several Pomodoros, each of which consists of 25 minutes, and they're divided by 5-minute breaks.
Of course, you'll need a timer. Timers are crucial for this method to work. Otherwise, you'll find yourself looking at the time every 5 minutes, something that’ll effectively take your mind off the task at hand.
There's also the fact that you can bend the rules of the Pomodoro technique, but only within reason and if it makes sense to you and the nature of your task. For instance, if you're planning on omitting your breaks, then this method won't work, and the gratification that comes out of finishing a single Pomodoro won't be there anymore.
However, if you try to tweak the timeframe of a single Pomodoro, then this might still work. For instance, if you're working on a task that doesn't usually take much time, you can extend the period of a single Pomodoro to 50 minutes instead of 25 and still reap the benefits!
Because the difficulty of a task inversely correlates with how much you can concentrate, you can also reduce the 25-minute timeframe to 20 or 15 minutes.
Handle Your Breaks With Care
Many of us feel guilty for taking breaks simply because this could've been time used to finish a part of the task at hand. However, this line of thinking is a bit unhealthy, no matter how good your intentions are.
Sure, everyone feels a high degree of responsibility, but for this to work, you'll need your breaks. You need a period of time to keep your mind completely away from any thoughts related to work.
If you're having trouble with this, you might find these suggestions helpful:
Hydrating and Stretching
We can't stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated at all times, especially if you're going to go through several Pomodoros to finish a project. Hydration should keep your mind focused to a certain point.
You’ll also need to do some stretches, as this exercise will minimize cramps, especially if you're sitting still for an extended time.
Go For a Walk
There's only so much you could do in 5 minutes, but the change of scenery that a 5-minute walk could offer might help you a great deal to forget about work. Putting on some music will make your experience more enjoyable, too!
You may have already read somewhere that if you decide to spend your 5-minute break on social media, you'll fall into a rabbit hole of endless content. However, this shouldn't be the case if you filter your content in a way that ensures that you don't exceed your break.
Tips and Tools
Perfecting a productivity technique should always be coupled with some sort of tools, so that you can stay on top of your tasks. Here are a few suggestions that have proven effective:
Nowadays, there’s an app for everything, and, you guessed it, the Pomodoro technique has hundreds of applications on different app stores to help make the best out of it. So if you think traditional timers might not help you achieve productivity as much as Pomodoro apps with personalized settings, then you ought to check these apps.
Some apps are solely dedicated to the Pomodoro technique, while others combine other productivity techniques with the Pomodoro method. For example, you can find apps that incorporate tracking systems into your Pomodoro program. Some apps also incorporate the Kanban technique with your Pomodoro schedule.
A Pomodoro-Friendly Workspace
Another excellent tip for mastering the Pomodoro technique is to use it while working. Many platforms, such as Slack, now allow their users to use the Pomodoro technique without cutting off communications with their teams.
For example, if you download the Focus Mode, a feature tailored for Slack, it’ll automatically turn on Do Not Disturb mode during your Pomodoro sessions to avoid distractions as much as possible. Then, after you finish a Pomodoro, the Focus Mode will turn it off again.
If you're not working from home, you might want to foster the use of the Pomodoro technique between your teammates, especially if you're finding it more and more challenging to maintain your focus. You might also want to do this if the nature of your workplace is loud.
Merge the Smaller Tasks Together
Once you've got a grip on this technique and reached a high level of productivity, you might want to start thinking about infusing tasks together.
This is nothing too serious or stressful; all you need to do is consider manageable tasks -ones that take approximately 1-2 Pomodoros- and perform them together.
Examples for smaller tasks are: reading instructions, submitting an assignment, checking a file, and so on.
The important thing to remember here's to never move to larger, more dense tasks and fuse them with smaller tasks, as you'll probably feel extremely overwhelmed, particularly if you're not comfortable yet with the Pomodoro technique.
Trying a new productivity method might not always work. Using the Pomodoro technique for work or everyday tasks can turn into a trial-and-error process. Don't worry if this happens; the Pomodoro technique, as simple as it is, can be tweaked and adjusted to fit the user's productivity levels best and, most importantly, their lifestyle.
In truth, this is exactly why it's worked for so many people! So, make sure that you follow the tips we've mentioned here, and don't shy away from experimenting with this wonderful technique until you can make the most of your time!