Today I want to share my experience on how I considerably increased my productivity. I think, this is not the last time when I say thanks to the great
Soft Skills book by John Sonmez for a good idea.
A bit of history
The Pomodoro Technique was created in late 1980s by an university student who wished do his best for learning. “Pomodoro” is an Italian word for tomato (it is funny that in Russian we use the same word). The student used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to track time intervals. The technique is named after the timer.
Pomodoro Technique overview
The technique is very simple, so you can even think it is not worth to be tried. However, give it a chance and you will be amazed how good it works. To follow the technique you should do the following.
At first you should decide which work you’d like to complete during a day. Then you should set up a timer for 25 minutes and work on the first task you have planned. The main point is you must work only on this task with full focus and do not be distracted by other activities. At the end of the 25 minutes you should set up the timer to 5 minutes and take a break. It is considered as one Pomodoro. After every four Pomodori you should take a longer break about 15-30 minutes.
Pomodoro Technique advantages
- Focused work. It is much more effective than constant switching between tasks.
- Scheduled breaks. Scheduling time for slacking off is a pretty big reward for your brain to stay focused.
- You can estimate your real capacity in Pomodoro for a day, a week and even longer.
- You can feel no guilty about a day if you completed all the planned Pomodori and then take a rest.
The real power of the Pomodoro Technique is using it as a tool to estimate and measure your work. So, it is mandatory to count number of done Pomodori each day.
Difficulties in adoption of the technique
- The main difficulty is avoiding interruptions. For example, you should find a way how to ignore instant messages, how to ask colleagues to wait until a Pomodoro is finished.
- It is harder to do focused work. Your brain will spend more resources to stay in the focused state and it feels.
- For me it is hard to take a break. Frequently it seems like I could finish the task in a couple of minutes. I continue the task and forget about the break.
- I usually start another task right after finishing previous one instead of “overlearning” as the original technique suggests
- I do physical activity like squatting in breaks and exercises for eyes
How much work can you get done
You could think if a work day contains 8 hours, it should be possible to complete 16 Pomodori. However, doing 16 Pomodori even in 12 hours would be a ginormous effort. It is the price of staying focused.
Every person even of great abilities has a cap on the amount of Pomodori that could be done during a day. John writes in his book that his usual amount of Pomodori for a day is about 10. I found with a surprise that I can do 12 – 14 Pomodori per day if I planned my work well. I.e. if I have definite tasks to do and there are no long meetings.
You can use any timer, but I found very convenient an online timer version at tomato-timer.com.
Once again I recommend reading the chapter 38 of Soft Skills book devoted to the technique.
Bye and be productive!