Get More Done, Faster and Better with Pomodoro

The task list distraction problem

We all want to get more done. We all want to get that to-do list checked off so we can go and do more fun things.

Time and time again, the to-do list gets trumped by fires, and we feel lucky by the end of the day if we get 10% of that stuff checked off the list.

Distractions cause us to move away from the things on our list — which in theory are our most important goals for the day — and distractions also create a situation where we can never really put our focus into something and move the needle — so even when we get something checked off the list, we’re left with the feeling that we could have done it better.

There is a better way — and its a little red tomato.

Enter Pomodoro

The Pomodoro Technique was created in the late 1980s by a Mr. Francesco Cirillo. He knew a thing or two about how important focus is, and although the more recent studies weren’t out yet, he theorized that multitasking wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.

So he created the Pomodoro Technique, which basically creates an environment where you limit the scope of your attention to one task, and one task only, for the span of 25 minutes, and then you take a 5 minute break.

Sounds simple right? It gives you that focus time, on one task — but at first this idea may also sound a little flimsy. What enforces this 25 minutes? What about distractions?

Well, the technique answers those questions too. You have a timer — which back in the 80s resembled an egg timer, but now can be a mobile app, desktop app, or browser extension. You set the timer, and you don’t think about anything else for that 25 minutes, you just focus on that one task.

You’d be surprised what you can do in 25 minutes.

Distractions

If someone comes in and distracts you, or asks you to do something for them, you simply look at your timer, and tell them you’ll get to it in X minutes.

If it’s something important, or something that’s likely to weigh on your mind for the rest of your current 25 minute block — you simply write it down. This allows you to get it off your mind while you continue with your task.

In your next 25 minute chunk of time, or Pomodoro as its called, you can deal with whatever came up.

If you finish your task before the timer goes off, you can either check your work for quality (how often does that happen?) or you can simply move on to the next thing on your list.

When the timer does go off, you take a break. Five minutes, no exceptions. Go walk. Stand up. Stretch. Check twitter.

To implement this idea, it does take a little bit of an iron fist. You have to get out of the habit of “letting things come up” and entertaining distractions. Once you create some good habits, it’s easy, and you won’t believe what you’ve gotten done by the end of the day.

Mindfulness

Obviously, those who know me also know why I love this idea. It’s mindfulness at work. It’s focusing on one thing, letting it encompass the whole of your experience.

When you do this, you enjoy what you’re doing much more, and the day flies by. Your quality of work will skyrocket, as well as how much you actually get done.

You won’t feel like you need a “break” as often, because you’ll be enjoying what you are doing while working.

When you’re not stressed about 10 things — and you can put your best into one thing, you’ll notice the difference, and I think it’s safe to say that in today’s work environment, that might be a first for most of us.

Try it.

Check out the official Pomodoro website, which actually doesn’t try very hard to collect money from you (information is free), and do a search for “Pomodoro App” in your favorite app marketplace.

Let me know how it goes!