Title Card - Pomodoro Technique

What Is The Pomodoro Technique?

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve gone completely off my rocker and have run out of things to talk about, so today we’re going to talk about tomatoes. What in the world are tomatoes supposed to do for you, and why the heck am I bringing it up here? Well, first of all, if I really was talking about tomatoes, anyone who owns and maintains a garden for a hobby, relaxation, or just wanting to grow their own food knows how therapeutic gardening can be. However, the Pomodoro is less about the tomato and what it represents.

The Pomodoro Technique was created by Francesco Cirillo, and is not named after a literal tomato, but rather a kitchen timer he owned that was shaped like one. This little timer turned out to be his perfect tool to help him focus on specific tasks and to be more productive. He found that when he was taking the time to really focus in on a task instead of doing many things all at once, he was far more productive than when he was distracted by everything all at once. The ability to multitask is a valuable tool, but it can sometimes also be a hindrance as much as it can help. People are hardwired to believe that if you aren’t multitasking, there is no way you could ever be productive because it would take too long to do everything individually. The problem is, many people will multitask and produce several substandard items loaded with mistakes instead of just dedicating energy to one task and ensuring that you are producing great things because you’ve focused in on it.

Okay, so what does that have to do with our lovely little kitchen timer? Essentially, the Pomodoro technique is designed to help you get really good at one particular skill: time blocking. Francesco started setting dedicated time where he put all distractions aside (emails, laundry, social media, everything) and puts his mind to one single task to ensure it gets his full attention and energy to be the best that it can be. Then, after his timer expires, he would take five minutes of break to do whatever he wanted to do before getting back to it again. That’s it!

Easy, right? For some of us, it might be easier than for others. The idea that we can set aside all distractions and do what we need to do in any given moment is probably something we have all tried at some point, but inevitably found ourselves getting distracted anyway. But why? Francesco believed that it was because of our missing concept of time, and the feeling that we have to keep track of it. How many times have you lost track of time because you were fully and completely concentrating on your work, only to suddenly look at the clock and freak out because you spent more time than you meant to? Time pressures and anxiety are constant, and even if you have a clock on your computer, you still have to process that time and calculate how much has elapsed or how much remains. As your designated time nears its close, you will check your clock more frequently, and the stress of timekeeping grows ever larger as that deadline looms.

This is where Francesco’s little tomato timer comes in handy. He allocates himself a dedicated amount of time for his task and sets it on his timer: a DEDICATED timer. It doesn’t do anything else, all it does is keep track of one thing only, time remaining. This is different from a timer on your phone or electronic device, because in order to check this timer, you have to pick up a distraction tool, and you are far more likely to see a notification or check something else because it’s already in your hand.

Setting a timer also relieves you of your timekeeping duty. That’s right, you were multitasking and you didn’t even know it! How can you be productive and keep a flow going if you’re constantly checking in on your time remaining? If you set it and leave it, the stress of ensuring you are on time is gone, because you are now trusting the timer to keep you on time, rather than your own sense of timekeeping.

There is one last very important piece of this puzzle. Especially when starting out, ensure that the majority of the time blocks you set for yourself¬†do not end at a pre-existing important deadline or cut-off point. Your timer is meant to set blocks of time for you to be productive before you allow yourself a break, which occurs at an unimportant and unburdened period of time. If you set your timer for an important time for when you have to get ready to go out, or have to start doing chores before guests arrive, there is now pressure on that timer. You’re going to be checking how much time is left furiously to ensure that you don’t miss it, and guess what? That completely defeats the purpose of this exercise in the first place! By trusting the timer to count accurate time, you must then set it and leave it and focus your mind on one thing and one thing only: your task. Now, I did say that you should do this the majority of the time. Obviously, it can’t be helped that you’re going to need to do things or go somewhere, and setting a timer will help you to be on time for that. That’s fine. It just can’t be all the time.

Does this sound like something that might help you? Time blocking can be a very effective tool to help us feel unencumbered by the pressures of time and deadlines. Let us know if you tried the Pomodoro technique and if it helped you to feel more productive!