In the late 1980s, Francesco Cirillo was well into university. He came up with a method to manage his time that utilized a tomato shaped kitchen timer, dividing his work periods into 25 minute blocks with small breaks in-between. He named this technique “The Pomodoro Technique” since pomodoro is italian for tomato.
This work strategy works pretty simply. Each 25 minute block of time is referred to as a pomodoro. Between each pomodoro is a 5 minute break, but after every 4 pomodori this break is extended, normally around 20 minutes. These small breaks woven into work keep the brain refreshed and creativity up. Studies show that the human brain can really only focus on a single task for about 20-45 minutes at a time. The breaks allow the brain to relax and enter a diffused mode that allows for more straightforward thought process.
The Pomodoro Technique is easy to implement. There are many apps on your phone that you can use as a timer/scheduler, but a simple kitchen timer will do. I like to use www.tomato-timer.com since I can have it open in the same browser I’m doing work and it has its own notification system. Most of my work is centered around my computer anyway, so a browser based application like this makes the most sense for me.
My goal is to reach a point where I’m working efficiently enough to have leisure time every evening while still getting a full nights rest. Of course, the work load will be different each night so I can’t compare the amount of time it takes me to finish my work from day to day as a measure of the effectiveness of this strategy which is why I’m employing a more long term goal.
The main habit I’m trying to target with the Pomodoro Technique is my habit of procrastination. It’s only until I reach a deadline that I being working, even on big projects like summatives, I’ll start the night before. While I can work very efficiently under this stress, proving Mr. Cade that the history ISP CAN be done in a single night, this habit has a very negative net impact on my life and I think it’s about time that I fix it. I feel like the timer will be a great aid since the clock is like a little mini deadline that I’ll hopefully follow. Ideally, as time passes I’ll have just learned to focus and separate my work and leisure time.
To assist with my procrastination, I’ve taken steps to remove distractions from my workspace. Working on a computer without games was my first step. I already keep my phone far away while I work, but I’m considering going so far as to just keep myself on airplane mode for as long as the work I’m doing permits. Hopefully these changes to my work environment will also boost my productivity.
Anyway, this post will be my first trial in the good ol’ tomato technique, and I’ll post about how well this goes in a few weeks.