Admittedly, I’ve never been big on productivity hacks, tips and tricks. Instead, I keep things pretty simple. I take a look at my planner (my not-so-together phone calendar), jot down a list of things I want to get done that day, and then start panicking.
But, after asking around friends, colleagues (hello PsyECR!), and hearing so much chatter about the Pomodoro Technique, I figured I should at least do my due diligence and give it a try. I listened to many different people rant and rave about how it helped them greatly improve their focus and increase their productivity, especially around deadlines. So, I thought testing it out couldn’t hurt—and, if all went well, maybe I’d even identify a new tactic for tackling my never-ending to-do list (and procrastination).
So, testing it out is exactly what I did. In fact, I utilised this time management technique for an whole week in order to see what’s what, and in a bid to write nearly 6,000 words in 7 days.
“So, what is the Pomodoro Technique?”
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that encourages you to work with the time you have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 20 minutes.
The idea behind the technique is that the timer instils a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.
The forced breaks help with that burnt-out feeling most of us experience toward the end of the day. It’s impossible to spend hours in front of your computer without even realising it, as that ticking timer reminds you to get up and take a breather.
The concept of keeping such detailed track of my workday seemed a little cumbersome to me. So, I downloaded the Brain Focus App on my phone (which is completely free!). There are tons of free pomodoro -type apps you can get for IOS and Android that are free and work just like the original (without the price). It made things much easier.
I really anticipated not liking this at all. I’m the type of person who tends to sit in front of her computer and hammer out four hours of work without so much as a bathroom break, and then not work for days. And then panic again.
Because I was so used to working in those long chunks of time (during which I thought I was being productive), the idea of splitting up my workday and wasting time on breaks seemed counter intuitive. How could working less actually help me accomplish more?
And… I was wrong. I actually ended up really liking this technique — and it’s something I’ve stuck to the past few weeks. Even in writing this blog post, I got it done much quicker than usual.
At first, working for such a small amount of time seemed a waste of time, really. There were quite a few times when I was tempted to ignore the timer and continue working, especially if I thought I was in ‘the zone’. But, I forced myself to stick to the format.
I noticed I was focused and actually really productive during my work time (I wrote 2,250 words one 6 hour day!), as I wanted to get as much completed during that 25-minute interval as I could. I didn’t find myself mindlessly scrolling through Twitter. And, as a notorious ‘multi-tasker’ (see: procrastinator), I noticed that I was totally focused in on the one project at hand.