Have you ever dreaded the feeling of not getting enough stuff done?
I know I have. At the end of the day you feel exhausted, but still cannot sleep because of all the things you didn’t manage to finish today or everything you already planned for tomorrow.
Those kind of troubles disappeared when I discovered something called Pomodoro technique. I tried numerous other time saving tricks, but they were either too complicated or just didn’t get the job done. This one was so simple, but on the other hand so powerful.
Imagine if, for the first time, you managed to finish that exam paper on time, or even turn it in early. Or you finally came around to complete all the chores you were endlessly postponing.
When I first heard about this technique I was in a big trouble. It was back in the times when I was studying literature. I was preparing for an exam which was huge, something around 15.000 pages. That was one of the two exams that were left before I could get my degree. The next novel that was in the queue was Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which was about 2000 pages long. I decided I wanted to read it fast, and I put the goal to be end of the current week. It took me five days! And here is how it was done.
Pomodoro is a time boxing technique. It means that the most important thing is picking a time which you will use as a default time for work, and the other one you will use to rest (and play). You know how they say – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
The author of the technique advises that it should be a period of 25 minutes (the peak of the attention) followed by a pause of 5 minutes. That cycle should be repeated 4 times, after which you make a big break of about 25 minutes. After the big break you repeat the whole process.
Visually it looks like this:
25-5-25-5-25-5-25-5 – big break – 25-5-25-5-25-5-25-5…
The only thing you need is a timer. You could use a kitchen timer or the one on your phone. There is an android app that I used which is called Clockwork Tomato.
Important: During the work time you shouldn’t do anything else except the task at hand. For any other miscellaneous thing that comes to mind, you should write it down on a list you keep close by, so you can do it during the breaks. The breaks are sacred spaces of no work. When the timer says stop, you stop until the next 25 mins. That way you train your brain to be extremely focused during the work and really be resting during the breaks.
Of course, you should have a plan of activities in advance. And be sure to dedicate a 25 min period to the same type of work.
When you practice for some time, it will be so much easier to stay focused. For the breaks I recommend taking a micro nap if you can manage, or stretching your legs and drinking a glass of water.
And that’s it. Good luck!