This is the story of how I learned how to get a full days worth of work done in about 4 hours… and how you can do it too, 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.
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 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 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.
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 Technique 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!
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 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, increase it to 35 minutes, then take the 3-5 minute break.
The Pomodoro Technique was created in the 80’s 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.
If you’re interested in reading the full Technique, you can Download it for Free Here.