Raise your hand if you're guilty of sitting down at your work desk only to look up at the end of the day and realize that you haven't finished half of what was on your to-do list. If you spend too much time getting distracted at work and it's hurting your productivity, follow this simple six-step method to boost your efficiency and improve your time-management skills.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo, a college student who wanted a way to get more work done in less time back in the '80s. Cirillo named the method after a tomato-shaped timer he used to stay focused ("pomodoro" is Italian for "tomato").
The method's aim is to help busy bees like yourself better manage their time by breaking up a huge chunk of work into more doable sections. By practicing the Pomodoro Technique you can train yourself to avoid distractions and interruptions, set more achievable work goals, and stop seeing time as the enemy.
Using the Pomodoro Technique for studying is popular, but you can (and should!) apply it to your job. Here are the six simple steps for successfully completing the Pomodoro Technique.
- Decide what task you would like to complete. This can be something as simple as emptying out your inbox or as complex as finishing that quarterly report for your boss in time for the next big meeting. The most important part is that you pick something that's worth your time.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes. To fit with its namesake, we suggest picking up a cute tomato-shaped timer ($10.29, Amazon). If you don't have a timer near you, use the one on your phone or an online version. We highly recommend www.tomato-timer.com, as it was specifically designed for the Pomodoro Technique.
- Work on your task until the timer goes off. You know those moments when you're finally making some headway on an assignment, but you get distracted by the thought of another chore you need to finish? Been there, done that! If you think of a job that needs to be completed, write it down and tackle it later.
- Write a check mark on a piece of paper once the time beeps. Congrats — you've successfully completed a Pomodoro. That little check mark is a reminder that you just worked for a whole 25 minutes without distractions.
- Take a short break. Now that you've gotten some work done, it's time to reward yourself with a five-minute break. Go to the bathroom, grab another cup of coffee, or quickly scroll through social media. Whatever it is, it can't be work related; now is the time for your brain to take a breather.
- Start all over again, taking a longer break after the fourth Pomodoro. Step away from your desk for 20 or 30 minutes to let your brain rest and recharge before tackling another round of Pomodoros. Now is a good time to go for a brisk walk, pick up lunch, or listen to a guided meditation.
Once you've successfully mastered the Pomodoro Technique, you'll notice it's easier to finish all your assignments that day instead of having them spill over to the next. You may also find it easier to avoid getting distracted.
Being able to finish all your work in one day and not stress out about it while you're at home will exponentially improve your work-life balance. Now you can enjoy your after-work hours with family and friends instead of being hunched over your laptop.