Pomodoro Technique for Staying Focused

Aug 28

Pomodoro Technique for Staying Focused

I don’t focus well. It’s hard for me to get into the groove of a project and just work, work, work and come up for air.

I’ve used several little tricks before to help me stay focused, but so far the best one is the Pomodoro technique.

This time management technique was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. He used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian) and the technique was so named.

The technique helps me work with time instead of against it. I take frequent, short breaks and it keeps me from getting burned out. It also helps to minimize distractions. For example, while I’m writing my posts for the following week I’ll get ideas of topics to research, hear a notification go off on my phone, have my husband come into the office for something and I’ll be sidetracked. By using the technique I simply postpone any distractions until the next break time or until it’s been scheduled to handle. Most things can wait.

The technique is very simple. Using a timer (I use Clockwork Tomato on my Android phone) I work in spurts of 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break. These sections are called Pomodoros. Every four Pomodoros I take a 15 minute break.

I get a lot done when I’m using this technique. I ignore all distractions during the 25 minute work period, then I walk around the office or go outside during the break times and check my phone. Usually, the notifications weren’t for anything important.

Structuring My Day

I like to plan my day the night before if possible. But if I haven’t, when I come into the office at 9am I briefly plan out what needs to happen. Today’s schedule looks like this:

Blog posts written for week

Client 1 Work

Client 2 Work

Ebay photos processed

Life coaching lesson and homework

I know how much time I have to work during the day with breaks for meals. So I divide the work in Pomodoro sections.

Blog posts – 2 pomodoros

Client 1 Work – 2 pomodoros

Client 2 Work – 2 pomodoros

Ebay photos – 2 pomodoros

Life coaching lesson – 2 pomodoros

If I get started by 9:30, that puts me at 7:30 or 8:00 tonight and I’m done with my work for the today. Anything that doesn’t get finished today will go on tomorrow’s list. I may also adjust a few things. For example, if I get done with the blog posts faster, then I can spend another pomodoro on client work or on a longer lunch break. I can also delegate some things, such as having Scott work on the eBay photos instead of me.

Scheduling work this way and keeping my distractions to a minimum has freed me and helped me be more productive. I know when I set my timer that I’m working on ONE project during that 25 minutes. This is how I’ve gotten more eBay listings up in two days than in the past few months, because I was focused JUST on listing and ignored distractions from that.

Have you tried the Pomodoro technique? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.



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