You know what that is? Your todo list is full of hundreds of topics and you stand there like paralyzed and don’t know where to start? The some or other important task is still not done? You feel unproductive and annoyed? The Pomodoro technique can help!
That is what this article is about. Five very simple steps that help you to tackle work consistently, keep track, avoid procrastination and feel productive.
Multitasking maybe, but not multifocus
When I started to deal more intensively with self-management and effective work, I was convinced that I was a real multitasker. I followed my work on several monitors, tried to make phone calls and get as much as possible at once.
The email inbox open, instant messenger and phone ringing… Action everywhere!
Feels good somehow – so much to do at once.
Until one day you realize that you can make many movements at once, but that as a human being you are not capable of multifocus. There can only be one thing you can concentrate on at a time.
For example, you might be able to make a phone call or listen to a podcast while driving a car. Reading and listening to a podcast at the same time will then become more difficult. We will focus on one of the two things and hide the other.
Pomodoro helps to focus
If you reflect on your work performance, you will always find that you achieve more by working on one task after another.
But this also has a disadvantage: if we get lost or even get lost in a topic, we are faced at the end of the day with the problem that a lot of work has been left behind, which was actually much more important.
A feeling of loss of control and therefore panic arises. We feel unproductive and tend to work more instead of more effectively.
Often tasks are also big and we push them in front of us instead of just starting with them. A major cause of procrastination (see also Ivy Lee method), is the uncertainty about the exact approach.
This is where the Pomodoro technique developed by Francesco Cirillo comes into play. It is really simple and offers some advantages, as we will see in a moment.
The technique consists of five steps:
- Planning: Getting things done
- Timeboxing: Set alarm clock to 25 min
- Edit: Edit the task(s) until the alarm clock rings; mark with an X
- Variety: take a short break (5 minutes)
- Relaxation: after four pomodori take a longer break (e.g. 15 minutes)
The trick to this method is the small, clearly arranged work packages. 25 minutes often fit before a meeting. There is hardly an excuse not to start.
Working in a focused manner for 25 minutes means eliminating distractions. It also means not going to the toilet, not getting coffee or making small talk during the pomodori. There is hardly anything that cannot wait 25 minutes. In this way you avoid the inner bastard who wants to avoid doing uncomfortable work (“I think I need a coffee right now.”).
Another effect of fixed time windows (time boxing) is the slight pressure you feel to finish the work within the time window. It’s unbelievable what you can sometimes do in 25 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about working harder, but more effectively. Because of the breaks you get a lot of time for coffee, small talk or one or the other stretching.
Increasing efficiency: achieving more with less
You feel more productive, but at the same time you allow yourself more time off and variety.
We often underestimate how much time and energy it costs us to digress in everyday life. This unproductiveness, in which we cannot find relaxation, demotivates and unnecessarily consumes energy.
Two further points have come to my attention through the use of Pomodoro.
On the one hand, you start to think your tasks in 25 min time periods. How many Pomodori do I need for task A? You learn to plan time periods and to estimate tasks better.
By the many time periods with simultaneous reflection you get a completely different impression of your own efficiency. This creates additional self-confidence and security.
On the other hand, you also keep control over your topics, as you repeatedly leave work and get an overview.
Sometimes you realize that you have completely underestimated a task. Instead of letting other topics fall through the cracks, you adjust your planning, pause the task package and take care of topics that would otherwise fall on your feet.
Still skeptical? Try it out and write to me about your experiences with the method.
Cover-Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash