No matter our jobs, responsibilities, class load, or exercise routine, we’ve all got the same 24-hour period to work with. If you’ve ever struggled to check items off your to-do list or are looking for ways to reduce stress, then committing to a time management technique could be a great option.
Time management is a way of organizing your schedule, tasks, and obligations in ways that positively impact your performance, productivity, efficiency, and work-life balance. Time management helps you work smarter, not harder, so you can get more done in less time.
General Time Management Techniques
There are numerous tried-and-true time management techniques, like the “18 Minutes” technique or the COPE technique, to help you improve productivity. In addition, there are several approaches that just involve evaluating your workload, being intentional about what you say “yes” to, and removing electronic distractions (like Facebook or group chats) while you’re working. Time management books are available everywhere and can provide extremely helpful tips and tricks for improving productivity.
Today, we’re focusing on one time-management method, in particular: the Pomodoro Technique®.
The Pomodoro Technique®
The Pomodoro Technique® was invented in the early 1990s by Francesco Cirillo, a developer and entrepreneur. The technique earned its catchy name in honor of the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used to track his 25-minute intervals of focused work time.
The process is relatively simple and requires nothing more than a timer and following these five steps:
- Select a task to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work until the timer “dings.” Make sure you mark or take note of where you left off.
- Take a five-minute break -- grab a cup of coffee, stretch, and look away from your work.
- Every four “pomodoros,” or 25-minute intervals, take a longer break -- closer to 15-20 minutes.
The Pomodoro Technique® works by helping you hyper-focus on tasks, fight distractions, and train your brain to overcome a short attention span. By breaking your work into chunks and frequently giving your brain and eyes a rest, you’re encouraging yourself to be efficient and accountable in finishing your work.
Those who try the Pomodoro Technique® report increased levels of productivity during the 25-minute spans, less fatigue and mental exhaustion at the end of the day, and a confidence-boosting feeling of accomplishment when tasks are completed on (or before) time.
Who Can Benefit From the Pomodoro Technique®?
The Pomodoro Technique® is perfect for anyone working on a deadline, especially students or anyone working on creative projects or developing content. Whether your task is to write a paper, knock out a proposal, complete a graphic design project, or write some complex code, you may find that breaking your work into 25-minute chunks is hugely beneficial.
The breaks in between bursts of productivity also allow you to take a more holistic view of your project or product, spurring you to review the progress you’ve made with fresh eyes and make adjustments where necessary.
How to Start Using the Pomodoro Technique®
One of the best aspects of this time management technique is how simple it is to begin. Simply find a timer (the one on your phone will work), and try it out. If you’d like a more formal approach, consider exploring a Pomodoro app, like the following:
The key is to fully commit to the technique. Working in 25-minute bursts may feel unnatural at first, but after several days of training yourself, you may find the process helps improve your efficiency and productivity dramatically. For more information, check out the Pomodoro Technique, written by Francesco Cirillo.