The Pomodoro Technique: How to Use It to Increase Your Productivity
In today’s competitive and demanding world, optimizing time and effort is a constant necessity. A simple and effective way to achieve this is with the Pomodoro technique.
As detailed in an article shared by the National Institutes of Health, this is a tool whose objective is focused work, but with planned breaks in between. How to implement it? What are its advantages? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
Do you have too many tasks and not enough space to complete them? Do you have the impression that you will never finish your work? Do you think that the day should have 40 hours? Precisely, the Pomodoro technique is a resource to manage work time efficiently. In addition, it improves productivity and concentration.
It’s a recent method from the nineties whose invention is attributed to Francesco Cirillo, who began to use it in his university studies. The name comes from the fact that he had a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato.
It consists of focusing on a single, quite specific task for 25 minutes. These lapses of work, called ‘Pomodoro sessions’, are alternated with short, 5-minute breaks. After completing four blocks, a longer break is taken.
Over time, it’s suggested that the duration of the Pomodoro sessions be increased up to a maximum of 50 minutes. However, the work blocks should be of total attention and concentration. The idea is to put aside the old habit of procrastinating.
In this way, the impression of being saturated or overwhelmed is reduced. A break from time to time has a positive impact on both concentration and mental performance.
It even reduces the feeling that we’re between a rock and a hard place, in a constant struggle against time. The best thing is that we finish the task with the same enthusiasm with which we started and, in fact, experience a pleasant sense of accomplishment.
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How to apply the Pomodoro technique to increase productivity?
The Pomodoro technique is quite simple. Below, we’ll describe the process and what we must take into account for it to be effective.
- Break down your work. First, break the work into as many small tasks as possible. And if it still seems bulky, we should subdivide it further.
- Make a to-do list and cross off the tasks on the list. We already have an idea of the work, how much we need to do, and the sub-processes. Now, it’s better to make a list so as not to forget or leave anything out. And every time we move one box forward, we cross it off.
- Set the stopwatch. This is the fundamental tool; a clock, stopwatch, or timer. When we start the specific task, we must program it to ring in 25 minutes.
- Concentrate as much as possible. The key to the Pomodoro technique is that during those 25 minutes, we forget about everything other than the task. No partner, no children, no dog, no cell phone, no social networks. Nothing.
- Rest. Just like when we were in school, when the alarm goes off, we must stop everything we’re doing. Mark the task as completed or advanced, and take a brief but well-deserved break. In this one you do the opposite of the above; you think about anything but work.
What is the Pomodoro technique used for?
The Pomodoro technique can be applied equally to studying or work, as it provides several advantages in relation to the tasks. It also offers benefits for the one who performs them. Let’s take a look at the details.
Concentrating on academic or work tasks has become a challenge. There are several factors that can interrupt continuity at work; other activities, distractions with electronic devices, and difficulties concentrating, among other things.
Consequently, there is only one possible result; low productivity. Precisely, the main contribution of the Pomodoro technique is to help us focus on one task at a time in order to carry it out successfully and reduce or eliminate distractions.
Better time management
Research shows that, in academic environments, the Pomodoro technique has proven to be effective in terms of time management for schoolwork.
Moreover, when we learn to work systematically, we know what we can achieve, we control the rhythms and we organize ourselves better, depending on the time we have available for the total task and for each section.
Productivity and satisfaction
According to another study, in which Pomodoro was used in a real work environment (such as in the area of software development), after applying this technique, the number of internal interruptions decreased significantly. It increased productivity and generated more satisfaction in workers.
Motivation and commitment
Sometimes, the problem is not only lack of time or attention, but commitment and responsibility. Perhaps we do not start the task because we think we will not be able to finish it, and we don’t want to suffer guilt or disappointment.
However, if we start by taking one step at a time, and if we assume each small task is an achievement, this can also become an incentive to continue.
Decrease in effort and fatigue
If we stop every so often, the brain rests, and the chances of mental fatigue decrease. As for the physical aspect, when we get up from our work chair we can walk and stretch a little, which helps to avoid the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, such as sciatica, waist pain, and joint stiffness, among others.
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Tips to achieve good results with the Pomodoro technique
Using the Pomodoro technique, at work or at school, should not represent any difficulty. However, it can work much better if you keep the following tips in mind:
- Use a board, bulletin board, or whiteboard to write down or visualize tasks.
- You can divide the board into three zones (pending, in process, and finished).
- It’s possible to start with the most urgent or the simplest, depending on the case.
- Move away from any source of distraction.
- Turn down the volume of the cell phone or, if possible, turn it off.
- At the end of each completed task, we can give ourselves a reward; a cup of tea or coffee, a cookie, or any healthy snack.
- If 25 minutes becomes too long, you can start with short periods. These are gradually increased.
- Avoid multitasking. That is, do not multitask.
- Determine how many ‘Pomodoros’ an activity takes.
- Do not skip breaks. Breaks are the key to success.
Who is the Pomodoro technique suitable for?
The Pomodoro method is recommended for students and workers. In most cases, it can be applied both in the workplace and in academia.
- For example, for a teacher who has to correct a number of evaluations, this technique can help him/her not to get saturated.
- Also for a musician who has to rehearse for hours. Taking short breaks from time to time is a good thing.
In other cases, however, it can be counterproductive. For a journalist, a writer, or even a visual artist, 25 minutes may be barely enough time to get into the subject. Stopping may mean losing rhythm, creative flow, or inspiration.
For these people, the most appropriate would be to work for extended periods of more than one hour. It’s also a good idea to apply it by task: each time they finish a section, they could take a long break.
Finally, for those who are anxious, the use of a stopwatch adds a stress factor, so it’s also inappropriate. They may worry more about the clock than the task itself.
A very effective technique under the right conditions
In ancient times, humans had to work for hours, non-stop. With the labor reforms of the 20th century, this picture began to change, with shorter working hours. We have finally begun to realize that we’re more effective in short periods of activity.
However, it’s a good idea to clarify that the belief according to our attention span is so many minutes, and doesn’t have a proper scientific basis. However, the Pomodoro technique has proven to be effective for many, although it’s not infallible.
Of course, you can try it for a few days to see how it works or if it needs to be adapted in any way. Even so, there are other techniques that also help with time management. The essential thing is to put them into practice, especially if you have a tendency to procrastinate.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Cirillo F. The Pomodoro Technique [En línea]. San Francisco, California: Creative Commons, 2006. URL Disponible en: http://friend.ucsd.edu/reasonableexpectations/downloads/Cirillo%20–%20Pomodoro%20Technique.pdf.
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