A number of our blogs have mentioned a productivity technique called Pomodoro. So we thought that, for the first of our occasional series of Work Hacks, we would look at this amazing little idea.
Developed about 30 years ago by Francesco Cirillo, it is actually a trademarked technique, and you can even train to become a Certified Pomodoro Master! However, the essence is so simple that it might radically change how you approach your working day.
It is called Pomodoro because it was inspired by a tomato-shaped kitchen timer – pomodoro being the Italian for tomato. The core technique is to set your timer for 25 minutes at the start of a task, work in a focussed way on that task (i.e. not distracted by emails, social media, colleagues, the cat etc.) until the timer rings, then take a short break (just a few minutes, the perfect length of time to make a cup of tea or march on the spot to get the oxygen pumping again). Then you repeat for a further 3 cycles until you take a longer break.
The idea is that, eventually, you are able to more effectively focus on completing tasks, that you are more aware of how much time any given task takes (measured in “pomodoros”), that you are able to keep boundaries around distractions, and that you ensure you take regular, rejuvenating breaks.
Of course most of us are also juggling meetings, home schooling etc. so the idea of a stretch of time to complete 4 or more pomodoros cycles may be unrealistic to you right now. But I would absolutely challenge anyone who says they cannot find 25 clear minutes in a day.
Maybe set yourself a goal – every work day has at least 2 Pomodoros? Or every week has 10? Or set a team goal – between you, can you commit to working in this way – have regular uninterrupted time? Or agree that your next meeting is just 1 Pomodoro?
There is more to the technique than just a 25 minute timer, and if you are really keen to find out more then the book is a good place. Some of the ritual around the technique also contributes to its effectiveness – setting the timer, keeping a record of Pomodoros planned and checking off those completed, reviewing achievements at the end of the day or week. Rather than thinking of it as a time management technique, think of it as a productivity technique – you may find you are more productive using it and therefore the pressure on hours that many of us are feeling right now is less.
Give it a go, and let us know how you get on.
Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development