Does this sound familiar…
…You have a gigantic to-do list and don’t know where to start.
…You have deadlines looming and can’t choose which one to meet and which one(s) to miss.
…You start your work with the best of intentions, but invariably find yourself distracted by email, social media, phone calls, dogs barking, hunger, thirst, and/or anything else that attracts your attention.
Excuses. We all have them. The fact is, it’s hard to work efficiently and effectively, given the dozens of lovely ways we can distract ourselves these days.
What if you could get your work done and enjoy all the things that distract you too?
That’s where the Pomodoro Technique comes in.
I encourage you to visit the website when you have time. In the meantime, here is the quick and dirty explanation:
- Commit to work on one task, distraction free, for 25 minutes.
- Set a timer and get to work.
- When the time is up, set the timer for 5 minutes and enjoy a break.
- After 5 minutes, reset the timer for 25 minutes and get back to work.
- After 4 rounds of this, set the timer for 20 – 30 minutes and enjoy a longer break.
Sounds simple, right? Trust me, it works.
There are a few things I do to maximize my efficiency. This helps my list loving brain and minimizes the “Oh, I need to do….” distractions.
Map it Out
I prioritize my day and map out how many Pomodoros each task needs. Email, for example, gets one Pomodoro in the morning and another in the afternoon. If I’m writing, I allocate different pomodoros for first drafts, edits, and so on. I find that working on one task for 25 minutes is very helpful, but you might start with simply working distraction free for 25 minutes.
I build flexibility into the schedule by leaving every 6th or 7th Pomodoro ”open”. I use this open time to finish anything I wasn’t able to do earlier. If there is nothing to be finished, I use the time to write, brainstorm, stretch, plan meals for the week – anything. It’s not a break because I’m not allowing the distractions of social media or online shopping sites to suck me in, rather I’m giving myself permission to spend 25 minutes on tasks that often get pushed aside.
Commit to Following Through
I consciously decide to do this everyday. Even after using this technique for a while, I still need to set the intention to follow through. It is very, very easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of procrastination and there are days when procrastination just seems more fun than work. That said, when I procrastinate, I find myself thinking of everything I’m not doing and that leads to feeling overwhelmed which leads to stress. That’s not good for anyone. So, each morning I ease into my day with a cup of coffee and a yoga class followed by mapping it out and a commitment to see it through.
What harm is there in giving this a try? What if it works and you become a super-efficient-time-management-ninja?
25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of play…
… You’ve got this.