How Can I Maximize My Productivity Using the Pomodoro Technique?

If you are someone who is hoping to improve your productivity and efficiency, you have probably heard of the famous Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique was first introduced by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This technique originated from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.

Put simply, it is a way of breaking up your time into smaller time blocks, which we will call each time block a “pomodoro”.

If you are already familiar with the Pomodoro technique, you may know that it promotes the idea of a 25-minute work session and a 5-minute break. However, this strict workflow might not necessarily work for everyone.

This article will help you gain a deeper understanding of the Pomodoro technique by going into the benefits of the Pomodoro technique, the logic behind it, and how you can maximize its benefit when applying it to your work.

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A brief introduction to the Pomodoro technique

If you would like to learn more about the Pomodoro technique, we highly recommend you check out the Pomodoro Core process here.

In short, here’s what you have to do to use the Pomodoro technique:

  1. Set a timer to 25 minutes.
  2. Work on the task during that 25-minute Pomodoro
  3. Take a short break of 5 minutes.
  4. After 4 pomodoros, take a long break of 25 minutes.

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What are the benefits of the Pomodoro technique?

The great thing about this technique is that it achieves multiple objectives in boosting your productivity. Here are a few great things that it does to your workflow.

1. It gets you into the flow.

We’ve all been there. When faced with a challenging task, we tend to procrastinate and avoid starting to work on it. Remember the essay that you refused to start working on until 3 days before the deadline?

We talked about how important your mindset is in The Personal Growth Model: What Is It and How to Use It. The belief that a task is difficult and demanding would increase our reluctance to start the task.

How can we overcome this problem? The Pomodoro technique is a helpful way. Instead of thinking of your task as a demanding project that is going to take a large amount of time, the Pomodoro technique encourages you to start working on it for a short while – just 25 minutes. This 25-minute time block is exactly what you need for you to get started and get yourself into the flow.

In other words, it helps you kickstart your task.

2. You will need to give more thought when planning your task.

Another amazing benefit of the Pomodoro technique is that it encourages you to make concrete and actionable plans when tackling your task.

It’s so easy to get lost in your work without generating any insightful output when you do not have a concrete plan in mind for how you should work on your task.

Since the Pomodoro technique breaks your work schedule into multiple 25-minute time intervals, you will also have to break down your task into smaller sub-tasks, with each being an actionable step for you to complete your ultimate task.

The great thing about this is that, with the Pomodoro technique, you will need to think about what exactly you have to do in order to achieve the desired outcome. This is like setting specific goals and steps discussed in Systematic Goal Setting to Achieve Your Goals Effectively.

By breaking down your task and doing the above, it helps you to:

  • Reduce the difficulty, complexity, and feasibility of the task by making it more actionable
  • Even if you were interrupted in the middle of the task, you can easily pick it up by working on the next small step
  • Even if spread out the task over a few days, you can easily get into deep work by focusing on a particular small task

3. It helps you avoid distractions.

This is the most obvious and widely discussed benefit of the Pomodoro technique.

Breaking down your time into smaller Pomodoros is a technique designed to fit human attention spans.

You are encouraged to take 25 minutes to work on your task free from all distractions, turn off your notifications, and stay focused.

4. It encourages you to keep track of your time.

The Pomodoro technique can actually also be an effective time-tracking tool. Seeing your work time as smaller pomodoros means you can estimate your task using the number of pomodoros required, and you can easily track the amount of time you have spent on each task by counting the pomodoros that have been spent on it.

This is constructive to your review process. By keeping track of the pomodoros time spent on each task, you can:

  • Better understand your capability and the difficulty of the task.
  • Identify the areas that you need to improve on and how you can better allocate your time.
  • Evaluate how accurate your estimation was and make more effective work plans next time.
  • Find out how you spend your time each day and identify your values and objectives. This can help you live a more intentional life.

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The key steps to maximize the benefit of the Pomodoro technique

After knowing how great the Pomodoro technique is (or can be), we would like to introduce you to the following steps that can help you make the Pomodoro technique even better.

1. Evaluate your tasks and estimate the effort required

Before you start working on your task, you will need to first break it down into smaller chunks and estimate the amount of time you need for each task.

To estimate the amount of effort it takes to accomplish a task, you should:

  1. Break down your task into smaller tasks. You may use 25 minutes as a unit and break your tasks into 25-minute blocks.
  2. Gauge the level of difficulty of each small task.
  3. Estimate the amount of time each small task takes by writing down the number of pomodoros you think the task will take.

2. Devise a concrete work plan

After your estimation above, you can set a timetable listing out the tasks you need to complete and the amount of time you need to spend on each task.

When designing your timetable, you can:

  1. Consider the level of importance and urgency of each task
  2. Prioritize your tasks depending on their importance and urgency
  3. Based on the smaller tasks that you have listed out in the first step, and the number of pomodoros that each task will take, plan your time for your day with your planner.

3. Start your distraction-free work session

You are encouraged to avoid both external and internal distractions by doing the following:

  • For external distractions: you can look for a silent environment, turn on focus mode on your phone (or just put it aside), and close your browsers and other applications.
  • For internal distractions: it is inevitable that our minds may wander and we may have thoughts that keep arising during our work Pomodoro. The best way to cope with this is by writing them down in a notepad, a memo, or your digital notebook, then going back to work.

To enhance your productivity in your Pomodoro, here are a few more tips:

  • 25 minutes does not work for everyone. There are people who feel comfortable focusing on a task for more than 25 minutes, and there are others who prefer a shorter work session. If you feel like a 25-minute pomodoro isn’t really for you, you can always adjust the amount of time each pomodoro takes.
  • There are many apps out there that are designed with the Pomodoro technique in mind. If you prefer using timers on your phone or computer, you may use Focus To-Do, Flat Tomato, or Flow.
  • Remember, the key is persistence. There is no half Pomodoro in the Pomodoro technique. Make sure you complete the entire Pomodoro each time you start it.

4. Take short breaks that help your mind rest

As said, the Pomodoro technique is designed with a human attention span in mind. Taking a short break after a Pomodoro will help you regain focus and resume your work session efficiently.

Taking breaks, therefore, is conducive to boosting your productivity, and you should make good use of the break time so that it can do just that.

So how should you take breaks?

Instead of spending your breaks on activities that consume your energy, you should instead give your brain a break and help it take a good rest.

Therefore, instead of playing on your phone, scrolling your social media, or watching videos during your break, you can:

  • Go for a short walk
  • Spend time on mindfulness, like meditation, breathing exercises, etc.
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Take a nap

5. Review how you spend your time and adjust your plan

The Pomodoro technique not only focuses on deep work but also encourages you to take the time to plan and review your workflow.

To do so, you have to be mindful of how you spend your time and how well you complete your pomodoros.

Since you have made your plans in the first step, you can look at and ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I completed all the tasks that I am supposed to finish today?
  • How much pomodoros have I spent on each task? Have I correctly estimated the time that each task takes?
  • Which task uses up the most pomodors?
  • Have I stopped continuing with a Pomodoro today? What were the distractions that interrupted my pomodoro?

By doing so, you can better estimate the amount of time you take for each type of task, which will increase your control over your work life.

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