Time is an enemy that guards every deadline like a hawk. But are our markers deadlines or completed tasks? How much of our time is wasted by distractions?
Pomodoro, the Italian word for “tomato,” is the icon and namesake for the Pomodoro Technique, conceptualized by Francesco Cirillo after his tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Introduced in the 1980s, the timesaving method was popular in the 1990s and to this day proves a worthy method to incorporate in daily use.
The tenets of the Pomodoro Technique are broadly discussed in Cirillo’s book of the same name, but can be divided into these basic steps:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- For those minutes, you will commit yourself solely to a certain task. There is no space for distractions.
- After those 25 minutes, you are free to take five minutes of complete, disconnected rest.
For the last five minutes, Cirillo recommends tasks that aren’t taxing to the brain—stretching exercises, going to the restroom, having a drink, etc. When you’ve done four cycles of work and rest, you are free to take a 15- to 30-minute rest. And then the process resets. Having a checklist for your 25-minute work sessions and five-minute rests can also help. Various apps have also been made which can track these 25-minute and 5-minute sessions for you.
Benefits of this technique are outlined on the website, including eliminating burnout, managing both your priorities and distractions (which are not necessarily different), and tipping the scales of work and life balance in your favor.
When time spent working is managed, so is free time, and that means saying goodbye to procrastination.
Perhaps the main benefit of the Pomodoro Technique is a paradigm shift in how we view time. No longer will hours, minutes, and seconds trace the line between the present time and our ever-looming deadlines. Instead they will be allies for both our trivial curiosities (in the form of checking our phones and making small talk) and our tasks.
This story was originally published in Northern Living, May 2016.