The Pomodoro technique is a widely recognized way of increasing productivity by working in intervals. In simple terms, the technique divides one’s working hours throughout the day into 25-minute increments with a 5-minute break after each. After a series of 3 to 4 25-minute work sprees, the rest time may be increased to 15-20 minutes. Each interval in this time-saving technique is called a ‘Pomodoro’. The technique is so named because it was invented by an Italian author in the late 1980s with a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato!
The original technique of Pomodoro consists of 6 steps:
- Decide the task: Decide a task, or a list of tasks, to complete within the duration of a work day. It is a better habit to list down things to do in a notebook rather than on your phone.
- Set the Pomodoro: Set an interval that suits you and your schedule. Just keep in mind that it is not too long or too short, otherwise, it defeats the purpose.
- Start working: As soon as you start the timer, get on with finishing the task you set for yourself. Don’t pressurize yourself, but be in the zone of productivity for one task at a time.
- Set break: Allocate yourself a break that you feel is sufficient. Typically the break should be around 5-10 minutes long. Take deep breaths, stretch your legs, have a snack, and rejuvenate yourself.
- Repeat: Repeat the same process till you are done with three Pomodoros or intervals.
- Longer break: After you have completed your 4th work interval, take a longer break, around 20-30 minutes. Relax and recollect yourself in the given time, and then repeat from Step 2.
The argument behind this technique rests upon the fact that the timer instils urgency in the mind. You are aware that your allotted time to work is slowly coming to an end, which thus motivates you to complete the task as quickly as you can. The short breaks at regular intervals act as both small rewards and guarantees against burning out. It is said that standing up from your desk throughout the day reduces fatigue, headaches and irritability caused due to spending long hours working. The Pomodoro technique helps resist all unnecessary distractions by providing set intervals of work and relaxation. This method retrains your brain to focus on the task at hand. Each Pomodoro keeps you focused on one thing, and each break resets your attention back to where it should be.
However, the Pomodoro method isn't faultless. It does not work for everyone. One of the main disadvantages of the Pomodoro technique is that it restricts a flow state. A flow state can be defined as a period where you're completely focused on the task at hand, and no external distractions can steer you away. The Pomodoro method inhibits this by creating breaks in the flow, thus disrupting attention. Another disadvantage could be that working in an office, or on days where one has multiple meetings, it becomes very difficult to follow the technique. Colleagues could come in for information or general communication, and it could result in a failed Pomodoro. So is the case with continuous meetings, where one simply cannot take breaks in between a session already in progress. However, these issues can be worked around, and the Pomodoro can be adjusted to fit your working schedule.
A very large number of individuals follow the Pomodoro method to increase their productivity. It has proven to be a great time saver and increases the amount of work done in a day. Try practicing the Pomodoro technique yourself, and maybe it could surprise you as well!