There is so much input with the expectation of the same output which many times leaves you feeling overwhelmed and defeated. How is it possible to get it all done within your normal working hours? Well let's start with that will probably not happen, especially during your normal working hours. I think the saying is "Rome was not built in a day". Wait, don't leave so soon, there is some hope in this blog post. You can make meaningful progress daily without the added stress and pressure of pivoting between multiple projects, issues, fires, etc... How, well keep reading...
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that helps individuals increase their productivity by breaking down work into short, focused intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, followed by a short break. Before we dive into the step-by-step guide let's level-set expectations. Using the Pomodoro technique may initially feel like it is causing you to be less productive because while you make significant progress on one task there are others out there still looming over your head. Just remember that you ultimately design your day so if you spend a lot of time communicating via email and chat, then plan several sessions throughout your day. The goal is to give you breathing room not place yet another constraint on your time. Okay without further adieu, here's a step-by-step guide on how to use the Pomodoro Technique:
Step One: Choose a task to work on. Pick a task that you need to complete and set a clear goal for what you want to accomplish during the Pomodoro session.
Step Two: Set a timer for 25 minutes. Use a timer, such as a kitchen timer or a smartphone app, to keep track of the 25-minute work intervals.
Step Three: Work on the task without interruption. Work on the task at hand without stopping, checking email, or taking phone calls during the 25-minute interval.
Step Four: Take a break. When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break to stretch, grab a snack, or just relax. NO WORKING, NO EMAIL, NO CHAT, NO TEXT, just you!
Repeat steps 1-4: Repeat the 25-minute work/5-minute break cycle four times. After four cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
REFLECT: Track your progress. Keep a log of your Pomodoro sessions and the tasks you complete. This will help you see your progress over time and identify areas where you can improve.
Here is a real-life example:
8:00 am: Session One - Data Analysis
8:25 am: 5 minute break
8:30 am: Session Two - Email and Team Chats
8:35 am: 5 minute break
9:00 am: Session Three - Morning Meeting
9:25 am: 5 minute break
9:30 am: Session Four - Morning Meeting
10:00 am: Break
10:15 am: Session One - Email and Team Chats
10:30 am: Session Two - Project Work
10:55 am: 5 minute break
11:00 am: Session Three - Team Meeting
11:25 am: 5 minute break
11:30 am: Session Four - Email Follow-Ups and Team Chats
12:00 pm: Lunch
Soooo what do you think? As you can see in the real-life example, there are several duplicate sessions, which is fine because this technique is designed for your success. If you need, plan it! There will be one-offs where you must divert from the plan however it's simple to jump back in right where you left off. Did you see the hidden gem? There are 45 minutes designated on a Monday morning where you are doing something JUST for yourself. When has that ever happened?
The Pomodoro Technique has been shown to be effective for increasing productivity and reducing distractions, as it trains the brain to focus for short periods of time and helps build momentum. It's a great way to intertwine work/life balance throughout your workday. Give it a try and see how it works for you!