As entrepreneurs, we all want to get as much done as possible. And many of us chose to be entrepreneurs so that we can have freedom and flexibility in our work. But, there’s a lot that needs to get done in our businesses. If we aren’t making the most of the work time we do have, it’s going to be hard to find that freedom. I am always interested in learning how to manage my time better and something that has been helping me lately is the Pomodoro Technique.
What is the pomodoro technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management system that has been around for over 30 years and utilizes alternating periods of work and short breaks to maximize how much you can get done in a day.
The traditional Pomodoro pattern is 25 minutes of work then a 5 minute break. After four cycles, you would take a longer break. It gets the name because Francesco Cirrillo originally used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer when he came up with it. You can read more about it on his website.
what are the benefits of the pomodoro technique?
By taking regular breaks, you give your brain a chance to relax and reset. Knowing you only have to work for a short period of time makes it easier to stay focused & engaged on the task at hand.
A lot has been written about the effect our phones and digital devices are having on our brains and our ability to concentrate. I’m sure you can relate. By setting a timer, you are telling yourself you cannot do anything else until the timer goes off.
how do you do the pomodoro technique?
Set a timer for 25 minutes.
You don’t want to be watching the clock the whole time, so you will need a timer. I use an Amazon Echo in my office (one of my favorite purchases, btw!). But, you can use a timer on your phone, computer, or some other method. I do suggest having some external reminder when your time is up. If you have to keep glancing at the time to see if your time is up you’re kind of defeating the purpose-or at least not being as focused as you could be.
The use of a timer is critical. It provides a sense of urgency and the knowledge that you’ll get a break soon. Challenge yourself to see how much you can get done before it goes off. You’ll be surprised how much you can do in 25 minutes.
Focus on the task at hand without interruption.
Before you set your timer, you need to know exactly what you’re going to work on during the 25 minutes. You don’t want to spend any of your precious work minutes on deciding. You can do this when you plan your week or when you plan your day. But, knowing what you need to work on is essential.
Once the timer is set and you know what you’re working on, focus on just that thing for 25 minutes. No email. No social media. No laundry. You can get a lot done in 25 minutes, but not if you’re wasting time or multitasking.
You will have a break in just a few where you can catch up on everything you missed in the 25-minutes prior.
Take a 5-minute break.
When your timer goes off, you get a 5-minute break. This is where you can check email or social media, do a quick chore, or just take a break.
If your 25 minutes were spent at your computer, it’s a good idea to get up and move around during your break. Get a drink. Use the restroom.
Repeat 3 times.
Depending on what kind of work you’re doing, you may be able to completely finish a task in 25 minutes or you may to use a few of your 25-minutes blocks to get something marked off your list.
As you use the Pomodoro Technique more regularly, keep track of how long certain tasks take you. This will be helpful information when you are planning out how you will spend your intervals in the future.
Take a 30-minute break.
Make sure you take advantage of a longer break once you’ve done four intervals, even if you don’t feel like you need it yet. You never know if that is going to catch up with you later. One of the benefits of the Pomodoro Technique is the ability to work and get things done without getting burnt out. And, it delivers this by providing for regular breaks.
The timing of four cycles works well with the typical work day as well. You can work four cycles in the morning, have lunch, then have another four cycles in the afternoon. You may even have time for another round in the late afternoon.
Make the pomodoro technique work for you
There’s really nothing to say you have to use 25-minute work intervals. If you have something you can focus on for 50 minutes and take a 10-minute break, then great. Do what works for you. The key is to make sure you are staying laser focused during your designated work time.
Track your time to see how many intervals are required for the tasks you do over and over in your business. For example, after doing this for several weeks, I know sending my email newsletter usually takes 2 intervals. I also mix in “admin” 25-minute intervals where I work on things like bookkeeping, billing, and managing email.
The Pomodoro Technique also works really well with time blocking. If you have your tasks broken up into blocks, you can simply assign those blocks to your Pomodoro intervals.
That’s basically all there is to it. Give it a try for a week or two and see how much more you get done compared to before. Most people find the Pomodoro Technique highly effective and they get much more done with less effort than before.
There’s also nothing to say you can only use the Pomodoro Technique for work. I’ve been using it around the house, too, and it works there as well. I’ve been allotting a few of my intervals throughout the entire day and found it has helped me stay more focused and get more done at home, too. You can do a surprising amount of cleaning in 25 minutes!
If you want more time management tips, check out this post.