Pomodoros are a simple learning and productivity technique. We all get burnt out or spend time doing stuff that’s not really effective or valuable, right?
Take a kitchen timer (a Pomodoro timer) and set it to 25 minutes.
Work on one thing for those 25 minutes. If you’re able to do that, when the 25 minutes are up make a little X on a piece of paper, like a post-it, and take a 5 minute break where you’re NOT thinking about work. Go walk around, or drink a cup of water, or use the bathroom, or stretch a little bit.
Then decide what you’re going to work on next and do another Pomodoro.
After about four Pomodoros cycles (with 5 minute breaks in between each), you should take a longer break of 20 minutes or so.
The goal will be to hit a certain number of Pomodoros in a day, like 8 or so, and then hit that number again or more the next day.
If you get really distracted during a Pomodoro (like you end up spending a few minutes on Facebook) then the Pomodoro doesn’t count and you have to start over.
This technique accomplishes a few things:
- It gives you an accepted relaxation / bucket time. Then you don’t feel bad taking a break. In fact, studies show that breaks are important for optimal learning and focus. If you don’t take breaks, you might not be as productive as you could be.
- It lets you recalibrate what you’re working on every 25 minutes. I know that for me I often get unproductive when I’m working on the same thing for a long-time because I start focusing on stuff that isn’t important but tricking myself into thinking its super important. (Have you ever found yourself spending more than 15 minutes agonizing over the formatting of a powerpoint slide?) The more often you step back and check in with the self, the more you’ll feel like you actually worked on the tasks that you were supposed to.
- It provides a small, but reasonable challenge for you to maintain focus. You can defer distractions to a time that is at most 25 minutes away.
- It sets a personal challenge for yourself. By quantifying how many Pomodoros you’ve accomplished during the day, you’ll naturally feel a desire to at least match that never the next day.
- You feel better at the end of the day. Most of us spend way too much time hunched at our desk and then we feel like shit at the end of the day. It’s usually because we haven’t been physically active, we didn’t drink enough water, or stretch enough throughout the day. These 5 minute breaks are perfect for that. I find that at the end of a day when I practice pomodoros, I usually feel awesome.