The Pomodoro Technique – A tried and tested productivity tool.

As part of our productivity series we have decided to give the Pomodoro Techniques a go!

The idea behind this time management technique is to work in timed sessions, taking short breaks in between each session, until you work up to a longer break, and repeat, until your working day is done. Sounds simple right?

Named the Pomodoro Technique after the tomato shaped timer (remember those?) that the creator Francesco Cirillo used when developing the technique in the late 80’s. This method is used to breakdown your working and resting times to a (fairly) strict routine.

Nowadays, we don’t need a tomato timer, as we all have timers on our mobile phones, but the idea still works to the same method.

Here is a breakdown of the Pomodoro Method…..

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Our willing victim…ahem…participant, for the DeskLodge Pomodoro Technique trial is Emma, our DeskLodge Content Media Manager and freelance journalist.

Emma splits her working days between coworking at DeskLodge Bristol to working from home (where her kids and other distractions are) and has tried the Pomodoro Technique at both locations

Emma’s Trial

The first thing I liked about the Pomodoro Technique was that I could start it when I was ready. It allows you to take the kids to school or eat breakfast before you get started.

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The first task is to create a list of tasks for the day, I like making lists, I’m a lists kinda person! I’ve made my ‘To do’ list and I’m pretty much loving this Pomodoro Technique idea!

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Task two, set your timer for 25 mins. Just 25 minutes of work then I get a break? Nice….

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Task three, get to work, no distractions allowed, no cups of tea, no checking my social media, just pure working on the task…I’m doing it, I feel empowered!

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Task four, the timer goes off, the first 25 minutes is over! Woo hoo! That’s one Pomodoro! I notch this on a notepad on my laptop, to record my progress (you have to do this every time you finish a 25-minute block of work/pomodoro).  

I decided to write the pomodoro as 1, and the next pomodoro as 2 and so on until you get to 4 but you could use crosses or a tally chart, it’s up to you….Confused yet?

Task five, you take that well-earned break, you didn’t even look at your mobile phone once during that Pomodoro! Well done you! You are sooooo productive! Set your timer for 5 minutes!

Task six, get back to work and repeat the previous steps, work for 25 minutes, break for 5 minutes until you have repeated this cycle 4 times.

On about the third Pomodoro/cycle the timer alarm is starting to annoy, you are dreading the sound of it like an early morning alarm clock!

Whether it’s the alarm for your break or back to work, you are getting a little edgy as time closes in! However, I am still kinda happy that I am not checking my phone during work time and have stayed in my seat (I can be a fidget) or, if you are a workaholic, you are feeling the benefits of moving out of your seat to take breaks. There are pros and cons to this technique.

Task seven, after the forth pomodoro, that’s 4x 25 minute working sessions and 3 x 5 minute breaks….stay with me….you get a long break! A proper break where you can enjoy a cup of tea, eat your lunch, read a book, listen to music or get some exercise!

During this break Pomodoro recommends that you can add in some extra mindless chores, including household chores (their words not mine!).  

Doing manual chores like filling the dishwasher or running the vacuum around for a moment, does take your mind off your work and makes you feel even more productive, as you are getting more stuff done!

I quite liked the sound of that, and when I was working at home, I too got some manual chores in, even in the 5-minute breaks! Go me! I also added in general life admin like arranging appointments and answering emails into these shorts breaks, still making sure I got up out of my seat.  All of which can be added to your ‘To Do’ list at the start of your day. (My idea not part of the Pomodoro Technique).

I wanted to take a longer break than the technique suggests, so I take a full hour off for the long break rather than the suggested 15 /30 minutes, I deserve it, I need to eat a meal and I have an important meeting with my social media.

I guess if you were doing the Pomodoro Technique all day you could take a shorter 15 / 30 minute break on one occasion but you will need to break for a meal at some point!

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Task eight, repeat all of the above, starting from the very beginning until you call it a day!

Emma’s Conclusion

I would agree that with such focus on time and workflow you do get stuff done and cross things off your ‘To Do’ list. The Pomodoro Technique did keep me productive and stopped any mental fatigue or my mind from wondering into procrastination, as I knew a break would be coming soon.

The alarm does get annoying, I did ignore it on a couple of occasions when I was deep into working on something. I felt if I switched off, I might (I probably would) lose my productivity flow. I allowed myself a little more time and wasn’t too strict on sticking to the 25 minutes.

For me, the Pomodoro Technique was most successful in the morning but that’s just me, I only managed one full round of Pomodoro, then I had lunch and too many distractions followed (like school runs) to stick to the technique.

This technique could be used any time that you are locking in for a project or working to a deadline. 

If you have regular distractions in your job this won’t work for you. It would not be productive to stop the timer every time you are interrupted, and it would become stressful. The whole idea is to manage your time well, get stuff done efficiently and reasonably stress free!

The Pomodoro Technique can help to give your day a bit more structure, keeping you productive whilst ensuring you do take enough breaks…..as long as you can put up with that alarm!

Give it a go and let us know how it works for you!

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