What is the Pomodoro Technique and How to Apply it in Boosting Productivity at Work

Today’s job description entails everyone to be more productive. This is the age where output matters most and results is a big thing. At the same time, in this age of the internet, there is a need to be in the loop and get hooked most of the time. This is how the 21st Century workplace looks like and this may be a good and a bad thing too. It comes out positive as information is easily accessed and things gets done quickly in just a click. The bad part is, stress levels are peaking and productivity tends to dip. This sense of imbalance should be addressed so employees get to work on their best and generate better results.

One interesting way to strike a balance in this kind of work environment is to employ the Pomodoro technique. It is described as a time-management philosophy that keeps you more focused with less mental fatigue. It highlights the concept of distraction-fighting and brain-training benefits. Probably, the simplest way to boost productivity at work. This technique was developed by an Italian entrepreneur, author and developer named Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. He named it after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer as “pomodoro” is the Italian name for tomato.

Pomodoro technique

Image Credit: Luca Mascaro

The technique is just very simple. Obviously, it makes use of a timer so work can be broken down into periods of 25-minute intervals wherein short breaks are inserted per interval. With the easy technology these days, looking for that reliable device is not a hassle. A simple alarm clock or a stop watch can be used. If you are techy, you can use your phone or download the app.

The interval here is based on the belief that rests in between will result to mental agility. This means your mind is refreshed to keep it more focused and concentrated. This is also one way to decrease disruptions be it internal or external during the given work time. Internal interruptions may be in the form of social media distractions and external interruptions on the other hand are other things that you are supposed to do but is not the priority as of the moment.

The 25-minute interval is referred to as ‘pomodoro’ and when the pomodoro reaches 100 minutes. Breaks are increased to 15-20 minutes. The official Pomodoro site explains that “You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.” This is the best way to finish a certain task and get through other jobs. Below are the identified steps to start the technique and see how you can apply it with your own work so productivity is increased.

Without Further Ado, Here is the Pomodoro Technique in a Nutshell

1. Choose a task to be accomplished.

2. Set the pomodoro or the timer to 25 minutes.

3. Work on the given task until the timer or pomodoro rings. Then put a check on a piece of paper so you keep track on the task done. That is one Pomodoro.

4. Take a short break for about 5 minutes.

5. After four Pomodoros, take longer breaks.

Take note that the identified longer breaks is between 15 to 30 minutes. It is your choice to determine when you are ready again to do the 25-minute interval. The process is repeated for the entire work day and you will just be surprised of the things you have accomplished for the whole day. Not to mention the plenty of breaks you have done to keep your mind open and relaxed at the same time.

However, there are times that you cannot do away with external and internal disruptions. These are in the form of meetings, phone calls, co-workers or even emergencies. You have two choices in this case, either you end the pomodoro cycle immediately and start over another cycle later or not minding the distraction until the 25-minute interval is done. If you choose to delay distraction, the author suggested three  ways on how to approach it. These are the - inform, negotiate and call-back strategies. Inform here refers to telling the person (a co-worker, a friend or anybody) that you are working on something very important. Then negotiate, this means setting a time to get back to them about their concern. Call-back immediately when your pomodoro cycle has been completed to face another concern this time with a clear mind.

It is also interesting to note that this strategy may not work for everybody. That is why we have freewill and choice to determine if this time management efficiency tool fits your lifestyle, work style and most of all your personality. Nevertheless, it will do no harm if you seriously try this technique and apply it to your workplace to check if indeed you have increased your productivity.

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