Do you know that feeling when you’re staring at the screen needing to get some work done and then you find yourself subconsciously opening a new tab to check what’s going on on Facebook, another tab for Twitter, maybe even one more tab for Google+ in case anyone actually decides to posts something there 😉 Suddenly you realize: ‘I really need to start working on this!’. So there you are again, closed all the distracting websites, ready to get started again. But wait, wasn’t there something else you needed to do before starting? Wasn’t there an e-mail that needed answering?
If this is all too familiar to you, I have some good news for you, there is a simple cure for procrastination! It’s called the Pomodoro Technique and it’s surprisingly simple, but really boosts productivity! Here’s how it works:
- Set a timer and start working on your task without any interruptions or distractions for 25 minutes.
- Take a 5 minute break
- Rinse and repeat!
- After three or four of these chunks of completely focused work, take a longer break (about 20 to 30 minutes)
That’s it! All you really need anyway. The 25 minutes of focused work are called a Pomodoro, after the tomato kitchen timer originally used to measure this time. If you decide to give this technique a try, you’ll probably notice a couple of things:
- The first time you try this technique, you’ll find that it’s really hard to focus on work without distractions.
- The first Pomodoro seems to take forever to finish, hang in there though, the next ones will be easier!
- It’s quite shocking how little uninterrupted focused work we can fit into a normal workday at first.
So here are some of the benefits I’ve enjoyed from this technique. First of all, the feeling of accomplishment after completing several Pomedoros in a workday is really rewarding. Secondly, no matter how much you dread getting started on a task, if you know you’ll get a break again after only 25 minutes, it’s much easier to get started. Another one of the benefits is that if you register how many Pomodoros you spend on which tasks, you get a great overview of your time management and a great feeling for how long a new task will take approximately.
Want to give this a try? Here are some suggestions for helpful tools you could consider using that I’ve personally tried out:
- In the browser:
- MyTomatoes.com: register once and enjoy the benefits of a nice timer and tracking your accomplishments easily.
- Strict Pomodoro: a Chrome extension that not only provides a compact timer, but also blocks a customizable list of websites you are (whitelist) or are not (blacklist) allowed to visit during your Pomodoro.
- On your phone:
- Pomodroido: an Android app that features gamification elements to motivate you even further.
- Pomodoro Timer Lite: yet another Android app that is extremely simple: add a task and get to work!
- Pomodoro Soup Timer Free: the Android app I currently use, lots of customization options for the demanding user 🙂
- Old school: any clock or an actual kitchen timer that includes ticking sounds loud enough to annoy your co-workers.
It’s funny you write about this… I saw a very cute kitchen timer last weekend, and although I already have a functional kitchen timer at home, I bought it just in case I might try out this technique! One question though… don’t your office mates get annoyd at the constant ringing?
Nice! I save the physical kitchen timer for at home for that reason. At work I mainly use the browser-based tools (Strict Pomodoro, at the moment)