In the late 1980s, Francesco Cirillo developed a technique for improving his time management while at university. Instead of working against time, Cirillo developed a method to work with time and reduce all life’s little problems and interruptions and reality into bite-sized chunks. The ‘Pomodoro’ Technique, which has less to do with tomatoes and more to do with tomato-shaped kitchen timers, is Cirillo’s method for ensuring that every day is productive. He also claims that using this technique, you’ll be smarter, but let’s focus on getting things done first.
All you need is a pen, paper and a timer that you can set for up to 25 minutes.
- List Your Tasks
You first need to create a list of the thing/s that you need to do. Write it down. ‘Email mum.’ ‘Pay bills.’ ‘Research article.’ ‘Write article.’ These are all tasks that you need to complete and which you would also like to ensure have your uninterrupted attention. As a cravat to the modern era, perhaps it is also advisable to turn off any notifications or unnecessary intrusive apps so you can actually focus on the task at hand.
- Set Your Timer
Set your timer for 25 minutes and get to work.
- Immerse Yourself
If any interruptions occur during your 25 minute task, deal with them by writing them down or taking notes, rather than leaving what you are doing. If it is a higher priority than your task at hand, stop your timer and give the task your full attention until such a time as you are able to return to what you were doing. At that time, restart your timer.
- Time’s Up
Once the timer ‘rings’ you can tick off your task. Ahhhh. Doesn’t that feel good?
- Break Time
Now you can get that glass of water you’ve been gasping for, or take a stroll around the water cooler, after all, you deserve a break after 25 minutes of tireless concentration.
- Four Makes a Score
No, five makes a score, but in this case, 4 blocks of 25 minutes of work (with 5-minute breaks in between) mean that you are now entitled to a 25 – 30-minute break. Don’t worry, apparently your brain keeps working, so you can chill out and play video games or chat with a colleague who is doing actual work.
On paper, all this time management and bite-sized chunks of real engagement with your work sounds very relaxing. The creator of the method claims that using this time management system can:
- Help you handle interruptions
- Reduce stress
- Eliminate mistakes due to a lack of concentration
- Reduce overtime, meetings and estimation errors
- Improve motivation
- Make team goals attainable
- Improve communication sharing
…and so much more.
Many large companies have reportedly used the technique to optimise productivity. In some instances, it would seem that this technique could really help those who don’t have the self discipline to complete their tasks, or in occupations that require very little creativity. The approach is reminiscent of high-school days; even then the lessons were 40 minutes before you were allowed to slack off. However, while the time frames of 25 minutes seems far too limiting to actual yield true productivity, the overall idea of committing to tasks for an extended period and ignoring unnecessary interruptions might be salve people need to get stuff done in a busy world.