Stay Focused with the Pomodoro Technique

By Yared Akalou | Published on May 27, 2020 | Photo by Bonneval Sebastien on Unsplash

Of all the life hacks circulating among Instagram and Reddit posts today, the Pomodoro Technique is one that’s stood the test of time. Although the time-management approach is decades old, people still recommend it. Developers create apps to guide you through the technique, such as Pomofocus, and influencers create virtual Pomodoro “work with me” sessions to encourage the use of the method.

Harvard psychologists revealed that our human minds are wired for distraction. In today’s attention-grabbing society, it’s increasingly difficult to maintain focus on one individual task when your brain is actively seeking new stimuli. The focus struggle exacerbates when tasks are mundane and boring, such as completing house chores or submitting expense reports at work.

The question, therefore, emerges: how do experts recommend we overpower our wandering minds? The answer: we must rewire our brains. This is where the Pomodoro Technique comes in.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Method is a time-management technique that helps you stay on task by breaking work down into smaller intervals. In between each interval, you take a break. Cirillo referred to each cycle as a pomodoro — which means tomato in Italian — because the timer he used was shaped like a tomato.

The method goes like this:

Choose a task. The task you pick can really be anything. Whether it’s a work assignment or a home project you’ve been putting off for some time, simply choose something that requires your full and undivided attention.

Set a timer. Get a timer ready for 25 minutes. But, before you hit start, make sure you are committed to what will come next. If family or friends are around you, make an announcement that you need the next 25 minutes to yourself, uninterrupted. Make a vow that you will stay off social media and Netflix. Once you’ve gone through these rituals, start the timer.

Work until the timer rings. For the next 25 minutes, don’t do anything else but that one thing you’ve chosen. Are you working on an article? Don’t stop writing. Are you doing homework? Don’t stop reading. If another task or thought pops in your mind, keep a notepad next to you, write it down as a reminder, and get back into focus.

When the timer rings, write a check mark. Once the timer rings, you’ll likely be surprised to see the volume you’re able to accomplish when you focus for 25 minutes straight, free of interruptions. Make a checkmark on the notepad to keep a tally of how many cycles you’ve completed.

Take a short break. This is your time. Set the timer for five minutes and let your brain recharge. Go for a walk, meditate, or chat with a friend. Once the five minutes has ended, with the same level of zeal used to get through the first 25 minutes, end your short break and get back to work.

Every 4 cycles, take a longer break. After completing the Pomodoro cycle four times, give yourself a longer break. Take 20 or 30 minutes to rest or do something that fuels your energy. Enjoy — you earned it!

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Why is the Pomodoro Technique so effective?

While simple in nature, the Pomodoro Technique provides complex benefits. The regimented process of breaking tasks down into shorter intervals forces you to organize your work. It removes the abstract concept of time and establishes concrete events in which you can complete important tasks. The in-between breaks serve as a reminder to stand up, stretch, and move your body, which supplies countless health benefits.

Importantly, the Pomodoro Technique yields a cycle of accomplishments throughout your day, and the chance to redeem yourself when an interval doesn’t go well. This is encouraging in itself and is sure to boost your motivation and overall ability to get things done.

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