The Pomodoro Technique: Make Your Schedule Productive

The Pomodoro Technique Publié le 5 March 2020 Par

There is enormous pressure on modern workers in all types of businesses to produce quality work at a fast rate. The end result is often long to-do lists which are filled with multiple tasks demanding concentration and focus, with few actually being completed in a timely manner. For those looking for a different approach to time management and a new way to create a productive work schedule, the Pomodoro Technique could be the perfect solution.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a method of organizing your schedule in order to maximize your level of productivity. It was first developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s while attending business school in Rome. The name comes from the Italian word for tomato, as the original kitchen timer Cirillo used to organize his productivity schedule was shaped like one. 

The method has continued to grow in popularity, spawning a veritable productivity empire of certified trainers, courses and guides, all designed to help workers focus on the task at hand. While these resources can be very useful for companies and individuals who want to go deeper into the theory behind maximizing productivity, the basic tenants of the Pomodoro Technique are accessible to everyone.

The Steps of the Pomodoro Technique

The basic theory of the Pomodoro Technique involves segmenting your day into strictly timed periods of focused work, with scheduled breaks for recharging. A pen, paper and a timer are the only things you need to get started. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Choose a single task you will focus on and write it down
  • Set the timer to 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer rings and put a checkmark on your paper
  • Take a short 5 minute break
  • Work for another 25 minutes
  • After 3-4 work periods of 25 minutes, take a longer 20-30 minute break

The steps are somewhat customizable, with slight changes to break times allowed, as long as the basic structure is adhered to. It is up to the individual how many times the work cycle is repeated. It can be used until a single task is completed or repeated several times throughout an entire workday.

The Benefits of Breaks

Working every moment of the day is simply not healthy for anyone. This is the reason why multiple breaks throughout the work day are mandated by both provincial and federal law. Studies have demonstrated that taking regular breaks from work actually improves mental awareness and attentiveness while reducing stress and fatigue.

It is important to think of the human brain like a muscle. If you exercise the same muscle over and over again without any rest, the risk of injury and chronic under-performance gets exponentially higher. The brain needs breaks in order to rest and recharge. After proper rest you will be able to produce better work without unnecessary mental strain.

The Pomodoro Technique is structured around short breaks that are designed to keep you mentally fit and focused throughout the workday. Use this time to step away from your desk, grab another cup of coffee and watch that cat video, whatever you feel like doing to take your mind off your task. By doing this, you are rewarding your focus, reducing your stress level and providing yourself with a sense of accomplishment. When the next 25 minute cycle in your productivity schedule begins, you will have complete confidence in your ability to focus and get back down to work.

Breaking the Habit of Multitasking

One thing that new users often notice regarding the Pomodoro Technique is that it actively advocates against multitasking. The first step is to select a single task or project to focus on for the entire 25 minute work period. With the pace of the business world growing quicker, multitasking has become an accepted norm for most employees. The problem is that the human brain is simply not designed for multitasking complex projects for long periods of time.

Chronic multitasking often leads to a false feeling of productivity. As you leap from project to project throughout the day, you will naturally feel like you have accomplished a great deal. The issue is that often times few, if any, of these projects have actually been completed. By taking small steps on multiple tasks all at the same time, it ends up taking longer to finish them. Furthermore, this constant juggling act can lead to a superficial focus, where projects are not given the full attention they deserve.

For those who have made multitasking their main method of work, the Pomodoro Technique can seem like a strange fit at first. It is important to note that while it demands singular focus on one task during a 25 minute cycle, this focus can be applied to something different in the next work cycle.

For example: you can begin your day by spending the first 25 minutes responding to emails, spending the time to provide thoughtful replies, before taking a short break and refocusing on building a PowerPoint presentation during the next work period.

Dealing with Interruptions

Officially, the Pomodoro Technique is actually quite strict when it comes to dealing with interruptions. It advocates using a 4 step process to address issues that threaten to break up a work period:

4 Steps for Dealing with Interruptions

  • Inform: Tell the person you are in the middle of a work period
  • Negotiate: Offer to get back to them right away when the cycle is completed
  • Schedule: Note a time when you will be done
  • Call back: Contact them the work period is done

If the task or issue cannot be postponed, the work cycle is to be abandoned, without placing a checkmark on your paper. Of course, unexpected events and tasks can frequently arise during the work day and it is important to remain adaptable. As long as the basic tenants of the Pomodoro Technique are still being adhered to, you do not need to be extra hard on yourself when dealing with an unplanned matter that needs attention.

Every worker wants to maximize productivity and improve their time management skills in order to produce high quality work at a fast rate. The Pomodoro Technique provides a clear and straightforward method to deconstructing your work schedule in a way that is designed to keep you alert and focused throughout the day. 

While there certainly are courses, ebooks and even apps for those who desire deeper instruction, the truth is that this method is freely accessible to everyone. It works just as well for long-time employees and those just starting their first day on the job. All you need is a timer and 25 minutes, and you’ll be on your way to producing better work in a shorter timeframe.

We are confident that with the Pomodoro Technique, you’ll be happier and more productive.