Have you ever tried to work for 6 hours straight with no breaks? Your mind will wander, you’ll get frustrated and agitated. A lot of times you won’t get much done. Why? Your brain simply wants to escape.
Add in smartphones, text messages and notifications, and it feels almost impossible to stay focused for long.
What can you do to break this vicious cycle? Incorporate the Pomodoro Technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is designed to make you more efficient, and if you want to give it a try, all you need is a timer. The timer you choose is up to you, and a lot of people choose a basic egg timer.
You’ll also find Pomodoro timers, which often look like tomatoes (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato).
But, you can also choose to use your:
- Focus Booster (for PC)
Really, any timer will do. If you’re working on a laptop or PC, you’ll find a slew of programs and apps that offer timers.
Okay, now that you have a timer handy, let’s dive deeper into what a Pomodoro actually is.
Francesco Cirillo, when he was in University, found that he was getting distracted. He couldn’t stay focused for more than ten minutes. So, he grabbed his tomato-shaped timer and set it for ten minutes.
The idea was simple:
- Stay laser-focused until the timer dings
And it worked. The timer forced Francesco to remain focused and get more done. He built off of this streak of brilliance and rewarded himself with a short break when the timer went off.
So, now we have two things:
- A pre-set timer
- A short break
But, he went even further with his technique and found that 25 minutes worked best for him. Everyone has their own idea of what a Pomodoro should be. Some people will choose a different duration, but I suggest starting with 25 minutes first.
When the 25 minute duration is up, you’re rewarded with a 5 minute break. This break needs to be something fun – getting a drink of water or playing with the dog works very well.
Then you repeat your Pomodoro for the 25 minute duration.
It’s fast and simple. But you also get a much longer break after the fourth Pomodoro. Following the fourth Pomodoro, or four blocks of working, you’re rewarded with a 15 – 20 minute break.
Blocks and the Pomodoro Technique
The 25 minute block, or any duration you choose, is called a “Pomodoro.” This block is essential to understanding the Pomodoro Technique. If you plan on following the technique properly, you’ll have two main blocks:
- Working block
- Break block
While this isn’t mentioned in most guides, it’s important to make sure that you have the same length for each working block. You’ll also need to have the same length block for your break.
If you start with a 25 minute Pomodoro, stick with it. The same goes for the time you choose to break. A 5 minute block should remain until four Pomodoro blocks pass. Then, you get a treat with a 15 – 20 minute break afterward.
I find that the 25-minute block is too short for some tasks, especially when writing.
If I’m on a roll and the sentences are flowing, I can’t bring myself to stop mid-sentence when the timer dings. So, I’ve changed my block to be everything from 45 minutes to 90 minutes in some cases.
My breaks are also longer.
The break and work duration are completely up to you. I recommend the 25-minute work and 5-minute break rule to start. Adjust the blocks afterward to find something that works best for you.
If you’re having trouble remaining focused, give the Pomodoro technique a try.
The goal is to choose a Pomodoro that is short enough that you remain focused the entire time. If you find that you’re getting distracted, lower your Pomodoro and try again. Everyone has a different attention span threshold, and this threshold may vary from one task to another, too.