Promising Productivity through Pomodoro
A decrease in productivity has been a well-documented pandemic-era side-effect – this may have something to do with the fact that we have spent the past year living in various stages of collective trauma, having all undoubtedly been affected in different ways by COVID-19 and the impact it’s had across the board on a global scale. In an effort to counteract the drop in productivity levels, particularly in those who have had to transition from an office environment to a makeshift ‘coffice’ (coffee-shop office) or home office and all the new and inevitable distractions that tend to come with these.
So what is one to do when the when the distractions creep into view and the productivity levels hit an all-time low – how do you rally and get back to it, or better yet, not let that happen in the first place? Well, one reoccurring suggestion comes in the form of the Pomodoro Technique. For those who may not have heard of this method before – the Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo with a focus on time management. The technique uses a timer to create productivity intervals by breaking up work into set durations followed by short breaks. The Pomodoro ‘purists’ believe that 25 minute intervals are the best set for maximum productivity followed by a five minute break. The idea is to work on a set task for a set period of time without interruption. This is not just applicable in an office setting apparently, but has also increasingly been “promoted as a way of life.” This of course comes with its own criticisms as indicated by Kelly Nolan – a management strategist who believes that Pomodoro Technique is “a great tool, but there’s a limited utility.”
It all starts with picking your task. The suggestion is to ‘eat the frog first’ which essentially means tackle the task you would rather avoid or do last, the one that you are the least excited about, do this one first thing and get it over with. Set yourself a time limit and hold yourself accountable to starting and finishing the task in the allotted time. The next item on the agenda is deciding what your interval should be – Francesco Cirillo, founder of the Technique advocated for the 25 minute slots, however Nolan has determined that 25 minutes is too short, and that 50 minutes allows her clients to hit their productivity ‘sweet spot’. Other intervals also include a 90 minute period or if you are truly engrossed and dedicated to the task, two to three hours will also do, however these then need to be rewarded by a 30 minute break.
Once you’ve decided on an interval, it’s time to pair that with a time of day that is most likely to assist you in achieving your goals i.e. pick hours that you know are generally good for you in terms of productivity and alertness. The Pomodoro Technique is designed to ‘scale up’ by increasing the number of intervals and time attributed to them gradually to train your brain effectively. When taking a break, it is important to remove yourself completely from the task you were just doing by breaking the cycle and doing something active. This increases energy levels, releases tension and allows you to refocus ahead of the next session.
Lastly, now that you have the general idea, it’s time to get the gear – this can come in numerous forms depending on your personality type. A good place to start is with your phone timer or kitchen timer to keep your intervals on point, and then of course there are plenty of apps to support you on your Pomodoro journey too.