Starting the week as you mean to go on

Start the week with the Pomodoro technique and a simple timer!

Monday mornings for me are all about getting the week off to a flying start by tackling regular weekly tasks head on. These include monitoring the activity on my clients' social media accounts, scheduling their posts for the week, sending emails, paying bills and sending invoices. Mondays are fairly predictable in my line of work but sometimes I need an extra incentive to keep focused and not get side tracked by interesting TED talks, research for the book I am writing or conversations on social media.

It's all too easy when you work from home to become distracted or to procrastinate I find once I get started I'm off to the races.

One of the most useful, easy-to-implement aids to keeping on track is the Pomodoro technique. Invented back in the 1990's by author, entrepreneur and developer, Franscesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique is named after the tomato shaped timer he used for timing his study time whilst a university student. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato). It is one of the most popular ways of getting through a list of routine tasks particularly if they are particularly repetitive, such as data entry, searching for information or cross-checking information.

Putting the Pomodoro Technique into practice

The idea behind the Pomodoro technique is to ‘gamify' your tasks by working for a certain amount of time and then taking a short break. During the work period you are focus on a specific task and in the break you get up from your desk, stretch, take a short walk, make a cup of coffee or do a domestic job. Once you've had your break you return to your work for the next cycle.

Pomodoro technique

Each work period is known as a Pomodoro.

The original technique worked on periods of 25 minutes work followed by 5 minutes break which were repeated 4 times. This added up to a total of 2 hours, at which point a longer break of about 15 minutes to recharge your batteries is suggested.

I like to use a slightly different combination of work:break timing. I use the 50:10 method as I find that 25 minutes simply isn't long enough to get into a the swing of a task, particularly if it involves writing, and that the 5 minutes break didn't allow for much more than making a coffee or putting a few things in the dishwasher.

With 50 minutes focused work you really get quite a chunk of work done and the 10 minute break gives you time to make a personal phone call or to send a few messages. You can combine the Pomodoro system with the Pareto principle to leverage your effectiveness

Breaking the Pomodoro Technique

One of the ‘rules' Cirillo had for his Pomodoro was that if the cycle is broken for any reason; for example, an interruption from a colleague, a meeting or a phone call, the Pomodoro is not simply stopped and restarted once the distraction is finished. You have to start the whole work cycle again from the beginning or postpone the distraction until the end of the Pomodoro time. You simply have to politely suggest getting back to your colleague or the caller at a more convenient time.

Pomodoro Technique Apps

I don't use the Pomodoro technique every day but if I'm flagging and lacking in motivation, it's a simple tool for getting things done. I use a simple kitchen timer or my phone but there are a few desktop, iOS and Android apps which you might find useful. Take a look at:

Categories: productivity