This is the story on how I discovered the almighty Pomodoro technique.
I’ve been working with children for the past 14 years of my life and I have been a full-time nanny for the past three. The tiny humans have helped me to learn a lot about myself: I for sure do not like bananas, as the years go by…my patience is growing stronger as my stomach grows weaker, and I have the attention span of a 3-year-old. So when my state shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, and I was sent home from work until further notice, I knew I’d be spending a lot more time doing what I currently strive for, working from home. I just didn’t think the struggle would be so real.
When I wasn’t running around the city with a child attached to my hip, I had about a 1-2 hour window to get some of my personal work done. That window being nap time, which we all know is never guaranteed. But being at home with an unlimited amount of time to devote to me? My art? Myself? It was overwhelming and tough to navigate, the first half of my new found freedom was spent doing not much of anything.
But once I finished watching an episode of The Office for the thousandth time, I knew I needed a plan. I started looking up ways to increase my focus and concentration and came across a 7-Day Focus Challenge. I decided to try it out.
On the third day, the instructions said to create a list of tasks I needed to complete. The next day, I chose the most important and spent 25 minutes working on that one thing. I was able to zone in on that one specific task and when my timer went off, I knew I had found the key. This process is called The Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late ’80s; Pomodoro being the name because of the tomato-shaped timer he used. If you struggle to focus for long periods of time, I believe this could be a very beneficial tool for you. After doing a bit of research, I found that there are many ways to go about modifying and using the Pomodoro technique. but let’s lay out the basics:
- Choose ONE task that you want/need to complete.
- Gather everything you need to complete the task. Don’t forget sticky notes.
- Set your timer for 25 minutes and get to work. If you think of something else that needs to be done, make a note of it and keep going.
- Once the timer ends, take a 5-minute break.
- Complete this cycle for 4 Pomodoros, increasing your break time each round.
- After the fourth round, take a 30-minute break and repeat. Continue until the task is complete.
If you can go for longer than 25 minutes, skip your break. You also have the option to stretch the time past 25 minutes if you’d like, some go for 50 minutes, others go for 75. Do whatever feels best!
The effects that have been reported by others from using the Pomodoro technique are things such as the elimination of burnout, improved quality of work, and increased work turnover. I’ve been using this practice for about 3 weeks and have definitely noticed a change for the better. When I started, I was using an online timer called the ‘tomato timer.’ I appreciate the easy use, but I did not like having the timer on my laptop screen while working, so I tried out a few apps. Listed below are three different but equally great options that help me implement the Pomodoro technique!
Flora: This app puts a challenging spin on productivity. When you start the timer, you are also “growing a tree” for your garden. If you leave the app during your 25 minute work time, your tree will die, so stay focused. You can actually grow real trees and share the experience with friends to see who can grow the most!
Focus Keeper: If you have no time for games, this app is for you. Start the timer and work. The app tracks your progress and puts the data into a chart for you to view. (3 days worth for free!)
Focus To-Do: My favorite! I love that this app because it’s the best of both worlds! You can generate sunlight (vs. growing trees), track your records with charts, and the timer feature is very easy to use! You can also choose the sound that plays while you work and schedule tasks within the app!
Cheers to being productive!