The Pomodoro Technique

Dylan | Apr 11, 2019

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Do you ever struggle to get started on a task? You understand exactly what you have to do but can’t force yourself to just sit down and do it?

After finally committing a few minutes to the task, you wonder why you had avoided it so long? Those few minutes blend into hours and taming your attention is almost effortless. You found your groove. Streams of momentum rush in to carry you down the river towards your goal.

Too often the final motivator in getting started is the stress of a rapidly approaching deadline that, if missed, would have negative consequences. So we procrastinate, despite the negative effects on the quality of our work and our health.

What if there was a technique that could “trick” you into getting started? Imagine the value of being able to forget about the overwhelming stress or boredom of completing a difficult task. It would certainly ease the pain of getting started. Fortunately, the Pomodoro Technique is capable of exactly that!

Origins and How it Works

The Pomodoro Technique derives its name from the Italian word for tomato after the tomato-shaped timer used by its creator, Francesco Cirillo.

Traditionally, the technique consists of 25 minutes of concentrated work on a defined task followed by a 5-minute break. One complete 30-minute cycle is known as a Pomodoro.

After completing 4 consecutive 30-minute cycles, you should take a longer break of 15-20 minutes before beginning another 30-minute Pomodoro.

Step by Step Walkthrough:
  1. Decide on your objective for the Pomodoro (ex: Setup a Local Database)
  2. Find a quiet and comfortable place
  3. Remove all potential distractions
  4. Set the timer for 25 minutes and start working!
  5. Stay focused and try to ignore how much time you have left
  6. After the timer rings, reset for a 5-minute break
  7. Get up, stretch, walk away from your computer
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 until completing 4 consecutive Pomodoros
  9. Take a 15-20 minute break
  10. Repeat all steps again

The key to a successful Pomodoro is a clearly defined objective and an intense undivided focus on it.

Preparing for your Pomodoro

To cultivate an intense focus, preparation is a must. Find a quiet and comfortable place free from outside distractions. Close your extra internet tabs and hide your phone. Let everyone who may interrupt you know that you will be working on a Pomodoro.

The beauty of the Pomodoro Technique is that you will never be more than 25 minutes from handling a notification or incoming message.

Personalize your Pomodoro

Although traditional Pomodoros consist of 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break, after some experimentation, you may find a ratio that works better for you.

I often enjoy longer work sessions of 50 minutes followed by a 10-minute break but if the task feels daunting, it can be much more difficult to begin 50 minutes of focused work than 25.

I also find myself skipping over breaks as I begin to build momentum. I regularly find my groove in the first Pomodoro and am afraid to stop and lose my progress. I just want to push through and get it over with.

Play with your Pomodoro

The creator of the technique recommends using a physical timer due largely to the fact that you can hear it ticking. It’s possible to actually condition yourself to enter into a deep-work state when you hear that ticking sound.

Physical timers are best but if you don’t have one on hand, a digital timer will certainly work! Just make sure not to let the timer distract by causing you to constantly check your phone.

Power of the Pomodoro

The Pomodoro has enabled me to complete most of the work on nimblecoding.com! From the code to the posts, this piece wasn’t just written with the Pomodoro in mind but in practice as well! The battle against procrastination often requires every tool at our disposal.

The Pomodoro is a tried-and-true procrastination blaster but don’t just take my word for it!
You won’t understand what an edge the Pomodoro provides until you get out there and put it to use in your own work! What do you think of the Pomodoro? Let me know in the comments below!

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