Use The Pomodoro Technique To Stay Focused And Avoid Burnout
Time Management Skills Series: Skill 08
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
There are six steps in the original technique:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, and start your next task.
Our version the Pomodoro Technique is slightly different for the following reasons:
- We are bombarded with things to do.
- We neglect other important responsibilities while doing work and pursuing goals.
- We create long-term resentment with the people who matter most.
What To Do When You Have Too Much To Do?
- Be clear about your goal.
- Decide what "one thing" to do next.
- Do that "one thing" and nothing else (during the allotted time).
Be Clear About Your Goal
Clarity allows you stay focused for a defined amount of time, typically 15 to 30 minutes. The secret to making this work is a technique called chunking. Chunking is redefining work in smaller, doable actions, so you can effectively produce the outcome you want without stress or shutdown.
Instead of doing a single 1-hour task, consider chunking it into:
- two 30-minutes tasks with a 15-minute break in between
- three 20-minute tasks with a 10-minute break in between
- four 15-minute tasks with a 5-minute break in between
The point is, reduce the scope of the task to a smaller, satisfying outcome. The reason I specify 'satisfying outcome' is because if you're not satisfied, you will likely keep working.
When you are clear about your satisfying outcome, you can remain focused long enough to get it done and then move on to something else, which is also important.
Decide What 'One Thing' To Do Next
Once I've clarified my goal, I immediately decide the next thing I can do to move towards achievement. Then do that 'one thing' and nothing else (during the allotted time).
In addition, I've trained myself (thru repetition) to pursue goals in stages rather than attempt to achieve it all-at-once.
Typically, I'll chunk work into 30-minute blocks and chores into 15-minute blocks.
After writing a post, recording an audio lesson or launching an ad campaign, I'll give 15 minutes to start the laundry, fold the clothes, wash the dishes or mop the floor. This approach allows me to move forward on my goal and maintain my home.
Before developing this technique, I'd spend hours working and other responsibilities would not get done in a timely manner. This created unnecessary tension and conflict in our home.
Since making the shift, my wife and I have less frequent conversations about neglected tasks. I'm also able to work with fewer distractions or interruptions since my family knows I'll be available within 30 minutes.
Tools You Can Use With the Pomodoro Technique, Task Chunking and Time Blocking
Daily Schedule Template
We've provided you a daily schedule template which allows you to schedule chunks of time (using time blocks) for getting your most important things done first.
We also use these phone apps to stay focused and productive during each pomodoro time block.