Another Tip for Success: The Pomodoro Technique

Posted by The Learning Turtle | October 30, 2015

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I love my time. I love it so much I want to protect every minute, plan for its use, and spend it as well as I can according to my purpose.

Do you love your time?

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s as a self-initiated method for organizing time around your daily tasks. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. Like tomatoes, the technique is divided into neat sections. But the technique is actually named after those little tomato kitchen timers, which Cirillo used at university.

The basic premise of Pomodoro is to segment your work—whether it’s study, an office job, or physical task—into 25 minute segments, with a 5 minute rest afterwards. Each of the work segments is called a pomodoro. On your fourth 25 minute pomodoro, you get a 15 minute break at the end.

Here’s how to:

1. As you begin your work day, make a list of the tasks to be done. Estimate the number of pomodoros each task will take.
2. Think of each pomodoro as a discreet unit. What you are doing now is the thing you are supposed to be doing. It’s a mindfulness practice, and it’s true.
3. Set your timer to 25 minutes.
4. Work, study, craft, or labor until the timer dings. Then, rest for 5 minutes.
5. After your fourth pomodoro, rest for 15 minutes.
6. Cross things off your list as you complete them.

Sounds easy enough, though if you’re not used to focusing on a task, it may take time to get the practice right. That’s okay. Everyone can become a Pomodoro Master with time. Even then, life is full of curve balls. If something or someone interrupts your pomodoro, just start over.

The Pomodoro book and website recommend six basic steps to becoming a Master. Basically, once you have:

1. monitored how many pomodoros a task requires;
2. learned to protect your pomodoro from distractions;
3. and can accurately estimate how long a task will take,

you should:

4. begin including recap at the beginning of each pomodoro, and review at the end;
5. arrange a time-table based on how many pomodoros each of your tasks require;
6. and finally, find your personal objective, i.e. improve efficiency or memory, work better on a team, have more energy during the day, etc.

If you have distracting thoughts during your Pomodoro, write them down with pencil and paper. You’ll have it later when that task is at hand. The simple practice benefits children and adults with ADD/ADHD.

Whatever you do during breaks, try to keep it simple. Stepping away from your screen gives the eyes a much needed break. And doing something physical, like stretching, pull-ups, or yoga, may help prevent the health hazards of sitting. It improves the flow of oxygen to your brain, which obviously increases the benefits of your break, and your ability to focus for the next pomodoro.

If your job is physical, take a seat, stretch, or rub your neck for your break. Get a glass of water, read a poem, or stretch your mind with sudoku.

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One final tip: it is best to use a real wind-up timer, rather than one on your phone or computer, as well as pencil and paper for you to-do list. The physical act of winding the timer and the satisfying clicks the timer makes are tangible preparations for your work. The timer, simple in its purpose, also poses no temptations for distractions. No checking Candy Crush or the stock market. A pencil and paper function similarly.

Keep in mind that you can adjust your numbers slightly. You can experiment for yourself, and stick to what works for you. Maybe you need a 30 minute big beak, a 45 minute final pomodoro, or consistent 20 minute pomodoros. The basic premise should remain.

The Pomodoro Technique helps you to focus on the task at hand, knowing you have a rest coming soon. It also gives your brain and body repeated recovery time. Thereby, the method not only increases efficiency, it can improve creativity, memory, work satisfaction, and overall health. Most of all, it prevents distractions—everything from that facebook notification to your existential angst—from seeping in and wrecking your ability to accomplish the thing before you.

When your mind and body are better ordered to your tasks, you may even find your desire for distractions lessen with time, as work becomes more enjoyable.

Something unique about the Structure of Intellect evaluation is that it also allows for breaks based on the students’ needs. We know that you perform your best when you have a chance to rest, stand up, and have a glass of water. Since resting in between tasks allows your brain to recover, your evaluations will be more accurate than otherwise. Thus, less time is wasted in your lessons at The Learning Turtle!

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