I’m often asked what techniques we use to focus throughout the day. Most of our team lives in different cities, some different continents. So how do we stay on task when there’s no-one watching?
I was introduced to The Pomodoro Technique a couple of years ago. It permanently changed the way I work.
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80′s, The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called ‘Pomodoros’, taken from the Italian word for ‘tomatoes’. Each Pomodoro is separated by a 5 minute break, and every four breaks earns a long break (15 minutes).
I begin my workday around 7AM, complete 8 rounds of Pomodoro’s by lunch, giving me 200 minutes of 100% undivided attention on the task at hand. I follow this with a 45 minute lunch, and then by 6:30 I’ve completed another 12 rounds. Each day this gives me slightly over 8 hours of pure focus.
That seems average – or is it. This article sums it up nicely, but the average American worker wastes over 3 hours of a regular 8 hour stretch each day. This doesn’t include scheduled breaks, such as lunch, so take away an hour there, too. You’re left with a meager 4 hours of productivity daily, less than half of what I complete using Pomodoro’s.
Another advantage is less mental fatigue. I never work longer than 25 minutes, so I never feel mentally strained or exhausted. The constant breaks allow me to track my progress more accurately and I also benefit from the “reboot” or change of perspective a break can have. It always seems to make things a little clearer when I come back. So not only am I getting more working hours, I’m getting more productive working hours.
There’s great software that helps with this. I currently use PomodoroApp because I love it’s built in task management system. In the past I’ve used the free FocusBooster and I also use PomodoroPro on the iPhone.
Give it a shot. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do.
Ding, times up. See you in five.