Let’s face it: concentrating on getting work done can be immensely difficult. When you work from home, not only are you faced with distraction after distraction, but there’s also a lingering feeling that you have an endless day ahead of you to complete your tasks. To help stimulate a healthy sense of urgency, which will help you stay focused on projects without feeling rushed, consider trying the Pomodoro Technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
To foster sustained concentration and avoid mental exhaustion, this common time management approach asks you to alternate pomodoros — concentrated work sessions — with regular short breaks. According to medium.com, the technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo when he was a university student. As a student, Cirillo had trouble concentrating on his studies due to exhaustion and decided to commit to only 10 minutes of intense study time. The Pomodoro technique was born when he discovered a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (pomodoro in Italian).
How Does it Work?
The Pomodoro Technique is fairly simple, with only five steps:
- Get a to-do list and a timer.
- Set a 25-minute timer, and focus on one task from your list until the timer rings.
- When the timer rings, mark off one pomodoro and take a 5-minute break.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer, 25-minute break.
The method’s basis are its 25-minute work sprints, but the technique also includes three guidelines for making the most of each interval:
- Complicated tasks should be broken down. If a project takes more than four pomodoros, it should be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks to ensure progress.
- Pair smaller tasks together. All tasks that will take less than one Pomodoro should be grouped together with other easy tasks. “Check grades on Canvas,” “pay rent,” and “send email” could all be done in one sprint, for example.
- If a pomodoro begins, it has to ring. The pomodoro is a time unit that cannot be divided, so avoid any distractions that might break your concentration. Any new ideas, projects, or demands should be written down to be revisited later.
Strive for Improvement, Rather Than Perfection.
It takes time to get used to working in fast bursts or sprints. Even if you’re not completing the full four, one or two Pomodoro sessions per day will help you feel more concentrated and efficient. Over time, you’ll be able to better understand how you work, and how much time it takes you to finish certain tasks.
Giving the Pomodoro Technique a try? Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, and let us know how it goes!