For a while now, I’ve been using a timer to try and keep me on track while I’m working at the office. I have my day scheduled by time blocks for various types of work, and I used a timer to alert me when the time block ends, as well as an hourly alarm to remind me to take a quick break and regroup.
It’s been helpful, but I got complacent with it – started ignoring the alarm when I’m too focused to be bothered, skipping the hourly breaks, and “snoozing” the timer for 5 more minutes so I could finish.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s. It can be used for any kind of task and enables you to view time as a valuable ally in accomplishing what you want to do.
The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals (referred to as “pomodoros”) separated by breaks and is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
- decide on the task to be done
- set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
- work on the task until the timer rings; record the task status
- take a short break (5 minutes)
- every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15-20 minutes)
I found that taking a quick break after only 25 minutes of work was really effective. I never got so deep into a task that I was unable to let it go and focus on my other responsibilities. I didn’t get that afternoon zombie feeling that comes from working on the computer all day. And I was moving around enough that I didn’t get bored and feel the urge to check facebook real quick or see if the price of silver has gone up or down.
There’s a whole book on this at the Pomodoro Technique website. I’ll definitely dig in a little more and see if this is something that will really work for me.