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The Pomodoro Technique: Can You Find More Time with Tomatoes?

Who holds the key to time management? Is it your partner who diligently uses a paper planner to chart out all meetings in pencil? Or your boss who devotes the last hour of their day to track and organize projects? Or maybe it’s you?

You fire up your laptop hours before your peers so you can experience some of that sweet uninterrupted prime time where you blast through hours of work. Corporate America has revisited the riddle of proper time management for years, resulting in a slew of potential solutions to rehabilitate your calendar quandary. There are models, methods, and technologies galore! One of those methods to consider in the quest for time management transcendentalism is the Pomodoro technique. This method may be a good solution for employees looking to find more focus in their workday.

The Italian productivity advocate, Francesco Cirillo, invented the Pomodoro Technique. The first part of the name, pomodoro, is the Italian word for tomato; Francesco used a timer in the shape of this ruby red vegetable (or fruit, depending on who you ask!) to track his time and keep him on task.

There are five simple steps, and just like Francesco, you only need a timer (a phone timer will work just fine) to start.

1.Identify your list of action items/tasks for the day
2.Set a timer for 25 minutes (a “pomodoro”)
3.Work on one focused task until the timer sounds
4.Take a five-minute break to stand up, rest, etc.
5.Repeat on a new task, tracking how many “pomodoros” it took you to complete each task

Though the guidelines are simple, the rules are stricter. First, no cheating! You may be curious about an email that pinged your inbox, or want to check the weather, but you must wait until your five-minute break. Second, you must track how many “Pomodoro's” it takes for you to complete each task. This part of the process refines your ability to estimate future assignments. And third, you can’t keep working even if you really, really want to and can‘t cut the time short, either. The process relies on dedicated work time mixed with consistent breaks to free up your thoughts. In fact, the Pomodoro Technique requires that you take a larger break after completing three or four “Pomodoro's.”

Fans of the method enjoy the dedicated deep thought time and like that they can clearly see their accomplishments, or “Pomodoro's,” at the end of the day. Certain jobs lend themselves nicely to this technique. For example, coders using an agile framework may already be comfortable estimating their time and completing focused tasks. On a similar note, the work of writers and website designers is also a potentially good match because the final work product is easily diced into smaller subtasks. On the other hand, the Pomodoro Technique may be more difficult to implement for client-facing roles or those that require a meeting-heavy schedule. Workers that don’t control their schedule may have trouble implementing this strategy since they would be regularly pulled from their work sprints.

Curious? Try it out! Take a week to pilot and see if adding this type of structure helps you stay focused.


SOURCE: United Benefit Advisors (UBA)