If you walk into me and Sarah’s office on any given day, you’ll probably hear the following conversation:
Me: Ok, I’m gonna start a Pomodoro
Sarah: I just started the tea
Me: Oh, ok I want one I’ll wait
~ 5 minutes later ~
Me: Ok. Ok We gotta do it.
Sarah: I knowwwwwww ughhhhh
Me: ok. 3,2,1, go… ok Pomodoro started
Even though we hate it, working as content managers, we rely on Pomodoro’s to make sure we can actually get stuff done. It’s a productivity system that you may have heard of but don’t know a ton about. So, with that in mind, here’s a quick guide to the Pomodoro technique and why we use it.
Where Did This Come From?
I’ve never been a terribly focused person. I can either work hard to finish something at break neck speed or it takes me 2 years. The Pomodoro technique is based on this idea: quick focused work, with multiple breaks. I know it sounds super weird but committing to it actually kind of works. Essentially, the Pomodoro technique is for sprinters, not marathoners. As Lifehacker explains,
“The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early 90s by developer, entrepeneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. The methodology is simple: When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines or constantly-refilling inboxes. With time it can even help improve your attention span and concentration “
By working in small chunks of time, that gives you the ability to tackle each task individually within a time limit that has no room for procrastination.
How Do You Do It?
As Cirillo defines it on his company website, the Pomodoro technique comes down to a couple basic steps. So, we made this infographic based on his guidelines:
Of course, you don’t have to do this all on pen and paper. At the office, we use an app called Focus Keeper that does all the timing and tracking for us. There are tons of different apps out there.
Why Does It Work For Me?
Essentially, my day job requires me to do lots of tiny tasks, like writing blog posts about HVAC, law, pest control, and other areas of small business. The bigger tasks I have often require going through websites to change keywords or write copy for websites entirely.
All of those small tasks put together that I need to accomplish in a workday is frankly overwhelming. But breaking up these tasks into 25-minute intervals, let’s me break my day up into:
“Ok, I’m gonna write two blog posts about dog safe plants”
“Ok I’ll write a draft of this homepage and then edit it after my break”
“Ok, now that I have 25 minutes, I can watch this Yoga video and do a couple stretches”
It brings 8 hours worth of tasks into bite sized pieces my procrastinator brain can’t try to run away from. It still does sometimes and I do pause the sessions sometimes and it takes me an hour to finish sometimes. Overall though, my workflow is improved by breaking it up into tiny tomatoes.