You’d probably have heard of the Pomodoro Technique spreading online especially amongst Youtubers, or have come across those “study with me” videos which they claimed to use this technique to improve their productivity.
It has been a long week for me and for those who do not know, I am currently serving my National Service (compulsory for all Singaporeans) and in a few days time, I will be posting out to my division after my basic training.
With limited time, I personally tried the Pomodoro Technique which has greatly increased my productivity and efficiency whenever I write or work on my businesses.
Here’s how you can do it too.
History & How To Do It
If you have been wondering like me about “where did this Pomodoro thing came about” you are in the right place as I’ll explain on its history and how you can use it to your advantage.
The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo back in the late 1980s when he was an university student.
It’s name derived from the tomato-shaped timer he used when he was using this technique.
It’s actually a very simple process.
The default way of using this technique is to decide on a task you want to do, set a timer to 25 minutes and take a 5 minutes break when the timer rings.
During the 5 minutes break, do not stay in the same spot and browse distractions such as Youtube or Facebook but stand up, stretch it out or get yourself a glass of water.
After 4 cycles of 25-minutes work, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
For some, 25-minutes may seem too short and you feel that you cannot get majority of the work done.
That’s actually how the Pomodoro Technique works.
Why & When Do You Need It?
I’ve found that this technique works best when it’s hard to get things started.
If you have a big task or project that feels daunting to start or when you’re lacking motivation, the Pomodoro Technique is a method to trick your brain to think that 25-minutes is a short time.
This helps you to take the first step towards accomplishing the big task and when you’re fully focused, 25-minutes is actually a lot of time for you to make a noticeable difference.
After which, it becomes really easy to keep on going once you have the momentum.
Needless to say, in order for you to make the most out of the 25-minutes, you need to limit your distractions.
When you’re studying or doing your work, try to put your phone to silent and leave it aside (turn your phone facing down), limit your browser tabs and only open the tabs that you truly need.
That means including Youtube.
Listening to music via Youtube is not an excuse, you’ll often find yourself browsing away. Besides, I think most people use Spotify now right?
Trust me, you’ll need lesser tabs than you think.
You can read my article on productivity vs efficiency where I wrote more about how you can achieve more by doing less.
On days where you’d just like to do your work and you start to receive calls from your friends, here’s what you can do.
Inform, Negotiate & Call Back
When you receive a call, inform the distraction party that you’re busy with something.
Negotiate a time when you can call them back. If you’re on the Pomodoro timer, it’s usually not longer than 25-minutes.
Be sure to call them back when you’re on the 5-minutes break. Take this opportunity to take a walk around your home or office, grab a drink or two.
Try your best to adhere to these rules except for urgent or emergency calls.
Remember To Take Breaks
This “attention curve” was originally used in a study to see how long can students stay attentive during a lecture.
As you can see, the level of performance dips when it reaches about 15 – 25 minutes.
It is easy to keep going once you have the momentum but it is equally important to take breaks so that you know you are doing your best work, or at least more efficiently.
It is ironic as you may feel that you are productive but productivity level sinks when you continue.
However, as with all things, different people have different levels of focus and attention span.
I would like to think that younger people are more productive in terms of mental focus but I’ll be writing an article about this after I do some research.
With that said, the default Pomodoro Technique can be adjusted to your focus level, you know yourself best.
As for me, I am currently giving it a stretch by working for 60 to 90 minutes and not longer than that but I’ll have a longer break of about 20 minutes.
A good starting point can be using the 25-minutes timer so that you can condition your brain to start on your tasks that seem so unrealisable.
Once you are able to do your work naturally as it becomes a habit, you can start to increase the timing. This is also a great exercise to train and improve on your focus level.
Talking about habits, here’s how understanding tiny habit changes gave me big results.
My Pomodoro app of choice is Plantie.
It’s a minimalistic app where you run the timer and successfully complete a cycle, you will start growing your plant.
There are a number of apps that you can choose from which are completely free and give the Pomodoro Technique a try. However, most of these apps uses the default timing of 25-minutes.
You can simply use your phone’s in-built timer if you’d like to try a longer time, the usage of these apps are just a way to make working and studying more fun.
If you’d like to use my 90-minutes timer, you can download the app Make Time which is actually a book I read that partly influenced me to start my blog. I will share more about this book in articles to come.
Give the Pomodoro Technique a try and see how it goes for you.
I hope this article has been helpful and be sure to let me know down in the comments section if it works for you
Ultimately, this is a technique for us to be more productive and to make work much more enjoyable so find your level of comfort and remember to take breaks.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you on the next one!