Learn how to get in a full day worth of work done in about 4 hours… using the Pomodoro technique! I was working 18 hours a day and still never felt like I could get ahead. That was until I learned the master lesson. Here’s a hint- I learned how to STOP multi-tasking!
Confession, I’m a multi-tasker! In perfect honesty, for years my personal motto has been, “I can’t function without confusion” which essentially means the more that things are falling down around me, the easier it is for me to dig my heels in and get to work.
Do you know what’s wrong with that? Everything.
Focus, Focus, Focus
I’ve spent so many years priding myself on the fact that I can do 10 things at once, that I had forgotten how to do ONE thing at a time. How to focus on a single thing and clear my mind of the 100 other thoughts that generally flashed through my head as I was working on something. It’s utterly amazing what you can get done in a short period of time when you focus entirely on that one single thing.
Let me preface this by saying if you’re a blue-collar working soul (aka plumber, contractor, electrician, etc) this probably won’t help you. This technique seems to apply best to office jobs, students, and even homemakers who struggle to get it all done in a day.
Allow me to explain a typical day, first, I get on the computer at about 4:30 am, I spend a couple of hours answering questions, moderating new members on my site and then adding posts to social media accounts. Of course, by the time these basic daily tasks are done, it’s now 8-8:30 am and I have to hurry to create a few new articles to add.
Unfortunately, I also have a job, (a real one that pays me!), so if I haven’t gotten my posts and emails attended to in a timely manner, they have to wait until evening, after I’ve made dinner, cleared the dinner dishes and washed them, played with the pets and before I can head to bed, I generally work 2-4 more hours.
Get in the Pomodoro Zone!
A few weeks ago I came across an article about the Pomodoro technique which is a time management system unlike any other. Rather than racing against the clock, like most of us tend to do, the Pomodoro method teaches you to work WITH the time you have.
It eliminates burnout by providing frequent breaks and here’s the part that made the huge difference for me, it allows you to prioritize distractions and order them once and for all.
You’ll need a timer (most phones have one built-in, that’s what I choose to use) and a To-Do list of tasks that need to be completed that day. Incidentally, the tomato (Pomodoro) shaped timer is how this technique got its name!
Set the Timer
Choose your task from your list, set the timer for 25 minutes. Work on ONE task until that 25 minutes is up. That’s it, one single task.
Devote your time and energy to one thing, whether it’s answering emails, writing articles, entering data at work, whatever it happens to be, do only that ONE thing. When the timer goes off, take a 3-5 minute break. Don’t skip your break, you’ve earned it. I like to get up and make a mug of coffee and do a few stretches, get the blood flowing!
Choose your next task, Repeat. After 4 working sessions of 25 minutes, take a 20-30 minute break.
It’s actually quite difficult at first because you start on a thing and then the phone rings (that’s what voicemail is for), or you’re answering an email and you end up on Facebook or other social media, or you hear your phone ding with a message, etc. Leave returning calls for an entirely different session.
If you’re used to working for long periods of time you might find the 25 minutes a bit too short, too bad, take the break anyway, then go back in for another 25 minutes of pure work.
The break is an essential time that allows your brain to disconnect from your work and assimilate what it has learned. While doing so, it gives your body a chance to refresh and reinvigorate itself. This isn’t a time for mental activity, planning more activities, etc. It’s a Break.
I know, big concept right, taking an actual break.
Every Four Pomodoros
Every four Pomodoros, it is imperative that you stop working and take a 15 to 30-minute break. Whether you take a brief walk, water the houseplants, check emails, listen to your voice mail, do a couple of yoga stretches. Whatever you want, but make sure it’s at least 15 minutes of “you time.”
The Pomodoro Technique was created in the ’80s by Francesco Cirillo when he was a student who was frequently frustrated with the high number of distractions, interruptions, and the low levels of motivation and concentration.
The Full Pomodoro Technique
That’s a taste of the Pomodoro technique. If you find it intriguing and would like to see the full technique, you can Download it for Free Here.
If the link doesn’t show for you, copy and paste the following text: https://wellness.ucsd.edu/CAPS/Documents/tx_forms/koch/pomodoro_handouts/ThePomodoroTechnique_v1-3.pdf