How A Ticking Tomato Can Unleash Your Productivity

Do you know how to say “tomato” in Italian? It’s “pomodoro”. If you love tinkering around in the kitchen, then you might have seen these “pomodoro” kitchen timers in the kitchen aisle of your local shopping mall. You wind them up to the time interval of your choice then let them start ticking so remind you to turn off the oven, for example.

Believe it or not, there is a whole time management strategy based on these little “ticking tomatoes” aptly called the “Pomodoro Technique”. It’s over 20 years old and is used to crush procrastination and help you focus on what has to be done. You’re about to learn the ideal time frame to use that will maximize the effectiveness of this technique and how to use it through your day to keep you focused and productive.

It’s as simple as 5 steps:

  1. Decide on the specific task to be done, e.g. instead of saying “read a book”, say, “read and finish chapter 5”.
  2. Set the “ticking tomato” to 25 minutes. The idea is that after 25 minutes, you have 5 minutes to have a mini-break.
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If you didn’t finish the task, it doesn’t matter. Make a note of it and continue in your next “pomodori”.
  4. Have the break after the timer rings. Force yourself to have it, even if you don’t want to.
  5. Repeat this process four times, then take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes).

The first secret behind this technique is that you intentionally try to give yourself not enough time to do the task, meaning you’re “hacking” your brain to do more in less time (how often do we do our best work right before a deadline?).

The second secret is that the 25 minute interval is relatively short, meaning you stay focused the entire time.

The third secret is that you give yourself “real” work to do, that’s quantifiable. This all comes back to making SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound).

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