Slaving through a project the size of Mount Everest is a daunting task for anyone; even those who claim to “thrive under pressure” silently shudder when a mammoth sized workload comes their way.
The best bet to avoid this dread is to break down a project into manageable chunks. A popular method used to achieve this bite-sized ease is the Pomodoro Technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, named after Cirillo’s tomato shaped timer he used when studying. The Pomodoro Technique’s aim, in the most simplistic way possible, is to increase the user’s focus when performing a certain activity. The idea is to divide work time into 25 minute sections, followed by a short break.
It is recommended that the break ranges from 5-15 minutes, but users should experiment to find the most suitable break length; not too long to lose drive, but no too short either, which can lead to a temporary burnout. Longer breaks should be taken once several pomodoros have been completed to allow for memory consolidation. In doing this, it is believed that you will improve your mental agility, increase efficiency and produce better results.
And it seems like the technique is catching on- a winning combination of efficiency and rest, allowing plenty of time for a quick catch up over a brew and a digestive whilst still achieving top notch results.
But how effective is this technique in reality?
For those who are easily distracted, the Pomodoro is something of a God send. Allocating a specific time to procrastinate yourself silly (or to check your emails if your boss asks) makes the 25 minute bursts of efficiency seem worthwhile. If a distraction arises – for example, if a colleague has a request – you can check how long you have left of your current pomodoro and deal with the distraction at the end.
There may be occasions when an issue arises and must be dealt with immediately however, and as such it is important to not become obsessed with the strict timings – it is ok to work into an allotted break slot, or to take a break early if a task is completed sooner as long as the skeleton model still exists.
In order for this technique to be a success, you must focus on adapting your work style, and being strict with yourself, but you must also work to the needs of the company. Being able to adapt the technique accordingly is vital for maximum efficiency.
Tools, the Pomodoro way
If you think that bringing in a tomato timer into the office might raise a few eyebrows here and there, the good news is that digital versions allow you to be much more discreet. After all, a timer ringing every 25 minutes in an open plan office is rarely going to do you any favours…
Here are a few tools which you keep you on track:
Google Chrome add on
On the web
Working towards a reward is always going to be a success. There is no such thing as altruism in the working-world, as such those little glimmers of hope in the form of quick breaks could mean the difference between completely losing all focus and producing impeccable work.
Have a break, have a KitKat, and celebrate your new found productivity.