It was mid afternoon, a rainy December day here in Vancouver and I was in my flow. I was working on design ideas and sketches for a new consulting website that our team is working on, and in the background I had a podcast by Jayson Gaignard playing.
When I design, I often listen to business podcasts as I find it a great way to learn new things and get inspired when designing and creating. (Note: I can’t listen or concentrate on podcasts if I’m emailing or doing any kind of writing, just doesn’t work for me.)
All you really need is a timer and your list of what you’re working on for each session. You can get some great free timers online.
Now if you’re like me you’re always on the lookout for ways to be productive and get more focused work done during your days. I’m a big believer that in a few hours of truly focused work you can get more done than most folks can in a typical 9-5 workday.
During this podcast Jayson mentioned getting solid work done through his Pomodoro sessions. I didn’t really know what he was talking about so I decided to dig deeper and do some of my own research into this.
What I found was really interesting – a time management method where you do focused work in 25 minute intervals called “Pomodoro” and then take short breaks, 5-15 minutes each time your Pomodoro ends.
As Wikipedia puts it “The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.”
How to Get Started Using the Pomodoro Technique
The first thing you need to understand before you get started is that while you are working in a Pomodoro you can’t do anything else other than your chosen task for that session. Yes this means nothing else – no checking in on Facebook, emails, making or answering phone calls, brewing up a coffee, absolutely nothing other than what you decided you want to get in to.
Of course during the short break before your next Pomodoro starts you can check a few emails, do a couple pushups, make a coffee, go to the restroom, etc.
Another important part of this is deciding how many Pomodoro sessions you’ll do in a day and also what big items or work you want to really get done for that day. By the way I only run Pomodori when working on big items that will move business forward.
For example today my big goals are I want to write this blog post and design a PowerPoint presentation for one of Michael’s upcoming webinars. I aim to spend 6-8 sessions today on those 2 things. That may not sound like a lot but I’ll get heaps done during those sessions because they are truly focused as mentioned.
So you’re pretty much ready to get your Pomodoro on and try this out! All you really need is a timer and your list of what you’re working on for each session. You can get some great free timers online.
Here’s one where you can customize intervals and also the alarm sounds too: http://www.marinaratimer.com/02w70k. For me I just use my timer on my Android phone, very easy to use and set, and I like the ring tone it provides. I’d love to hear in comments how this is working for you or what your best productivity techniques are.
Sam Zipursky is the branding and design director here at ConsultingSuccess.com.