How to Boost Productivity using Pomodoro Method?

Time is Money

This famous quote shows us the interest of controlling our time. But what does that mean? In an idyllic world, it would be great to be able to get extra time to accomplish a task. Or, it would be amazing to be able to literally win as in the movie Time Out where time replaces the money. But we are not able to do that, and our days are limited to only 24 hours, with no possibility of extension. Our mastery is therefore limited to trying to do the most things, well and as quickly as possible.

The question that logically comes to mind is: How? Should we sleep less to do more things? We could work 30 more minutes a day losing “just” 30 minutes of sleep. This may sound appealing, but think about how tiring it would be. No, this is really not the right solution.

The real solution is to do more things without working longer. This requires organisation and concentration and there are several methods to help us in this task. They are designed to help us focus on our work without being distracted, which in turn increases our productivity. This is one of those methods, the Pomodoro method (or tomato method) that we will see. It was invented in the late 1980s by an Italian named Francesco Cirillo.

pomodoro method

Implementation of the Method

The Pomodoro method is based on one thing: to devote yourself entirely to one and only one task (also called tomato, Pomodoro in Italian) for a little while. During this short moment, you will have to stay focused on this unique tomato and do everything possible to carry it out. Here are the steps of the method:

  • Decide which Pomodoro (task) you are going to stuff: in order not to waste time, the best is to already have a list of things to do. So, you just have to choose which tomato to perform. Planning is the key word here.
  • Spend this 25 minutes on Pomodoro: During these 25 minutes, you will think only of this tomato (task). Do not be distracted by anything else and you cannot leave this Pomodoro to do anything else.
  • Stop working on this Pomodoro and note your progress as soon as the 25 minutes are passed:Stop even if you have not finished, even if you only miss a few minutes to finish. Control yourself to work within this 25-minute period, no more, no less.
  • Take a small break of 5 minutes after each Pomodoro: This is a time of rest and relaxation. Relax, walk a little, etc. This breakis very important and will allow you to start from scratch for your next task without thinking about the previous one. Do not jump it, but do not make it too long.
  • Take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes after 3-4 Pomodoro: It’s the big break. The moment to gobble around and do everything that is not productive and you want to do. Read your emails, watch videos of cats, cook a meal, etc.

There is very little equipment required. You simply need:

A timer (the name of the method comes from the fact that its creator used a tomato-shaped timer (yes). A paper and a pencil (a spreadsheet or other digital tool also works great).

There are applications to automate the method like Tomighty. You can even use some sites like this one.

As you can see, the Pomodoro method is really simple.

Why is it Effective?

This is a question that should be asked before applying the method? Why would it be more effective than some other method? How could working for only 25 minutes’ help to be more Productive?

In fact, it is precisely because it is based on such a short time that it can be effective. Indeed, we can easily see that it is very complicated to remain focused on the same subject over a long period. Our attention ends irrevocably by being attracted by something. By working for a short period, we are more likely to remain fully focused.

In addition, the method requires working on a single Pomodoro (tomato / task) at a time. Indeed, it is useless to disperse in trying to be multitasking. It is much more efficient to act linearly, to deal with one problem after another, calmly and concentrate.

Here, are the three Watchwords:

  • Discipline
  • time
  • concentration

And above all, do not forget the breaks. They are as indispensable as work, because they allow the brain to rest and to evacuate the pressure. Killing yourself to the task is not very effective and work tired either.

Another way to gain in efficiency can be to note down all the tomatoes made. This makes it possible to make a daily assessment. What has worked well today, what can be improved, and so on?? These are questions to which a note-taking can answer.

Note-taking also helps not to lose motivation by seeing everything that has been accomplished (each tomato must be a small victory and therefore a source of satisfaction).

And finally, taking notes is very useful in the case of a medium- or long-term project. They make it possible to note the progress made in the project and to see the path that remains to be traveled.

Is this a miracle method?

It is normal to ask the question. Does the Pomodoro method transform someone’s way of working? Is this a miracle method? The answer is no.

Like any other method, it requires a longer or shorter adaptation time and assiduity. Indeed, forcing oneself to work for a fixed length of time is very complicated, and the fact that this length is short makes the work even more complicated (we usually chain several hours in a row).

In addition, it requires some mental strength, particularly during the transitional phases. If going from work to break is not too problematic (except in the case of a task being finished), returning to work requires extra effort. Thus, it is not uncommon at the beginning to want to continue the break, or even to continue it. And that’s normal. And at first, it may even be better to overflow a little.

What? It would be necessary to go beyond the pause time when the goal is to set limits?

It seems contradictory says so, but yes, overflowing a little when you start to use the method can be a good idea. But, be careful, the goal is not to take a longer pause, but to determine which pause length best suits us. Indeed, if some feel good with 25-minute breaks, others will prefer to have 20 or even 30. So we have to appropriate the method and adapt it to our case. On the other hand, you have to be careful to keep the time around 25-30 minutes (adding 30 minutes of pause is not an option).

Finally, this method is not at all miraculous (if not everyone would use it). It requires:

  • Assiduity
  • desire
  • adaptation

We have now enough to act effectively. However, we must also carefully choose the tasks to be performed and prioritize them.

Learn more about this technique. The image for this article (which is also the image of the timer) is a licensed image CC-BY-SA 3.0 by Francesco Cirillo.