Every few years, some new productivity or management style comes into vogue, and everyone talks about why you should try whatever technique is on the best-seller list. But one approach to productivity has transcended the fad label. The Pomodoro technique, created in the 90s, has many adherents both thanks to its simplicity and its effectiveness. Here's how to try it out yourself.
Of course, there are books you can read to learn all the intricate rules of the Pomodoro technique, but it's simple enough that I can explain it in just a few simple bullets. At its core, this approach to task management says that you are most effective when you focus on a single task, and do it exclusively long enough to make progress, but not so long that you get distracted, fatigued, or give in to the temptation of multi-tasking. After you successfully work for the allotted time, you get a short break to reward yourself and to recharge before starting another "Pomodoro."
So, in simple terms, here's how to practice Pomodoro:
Make a list of tasks you need to perform. These can be small, tactical tasks, but Pomodoro really shines when you make a list of bigger, more strategic or complicated activities -- things that need your undivided attention, and which you're otherwise likely to procrastinate on.
Set a timer to 25 minutes.
Work until the timer goes off.
Take a five-minute break -- exercise, eat, check out Facebook.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Every fourth Pomodoro earns you a longer break.
The technique gets its name from those kitchen timers shaped like tomatoes, but you don't need to use a mechanical kitchen timer for your own activities. In fact, there are a wealth of apps for smartphones out there you can use -- just search for Pomodoro at your phone's app store. My favorite for the iPhone is called PomodoroPro ($2.99), but there are free apps out there as well.
Want to read more about Pomodoro? Check out the official Website.