A subject we frequently encounter when we talk about productivity is time management and how most of us endure an extraordinary number of tasks we have to accomplish in a normal day and we know that the 24 hours we have will not be enough to get them done with the techniques we normally use.
A very simple but powerful tool that we frequently use in our work sessions is known as “The Pomodoro Technique”, which is a time management technique that was developed by Italian Francesco Cirillo at the end of the 1980’s.
This technique consists of using a timer to create intervals of work and rest, permitting full concentration on an activity during a time period and allowing the person to get distracted and relax during another shorter period of time. Many theories exist regarding time intervals, and the original break down is 25 minutes of efficient work with 5 minutes of rest. This 25/5 interval is known as “a pomodoro”. But we have found other work interval break downs such as 50/10 that work in a similar fashion. The term Pomodoro came about because of the common tomato shape that kitchen timers had in the 80´s.
What the technique entails
The technique consists in completely concentrating on an activity until it’s finished and it includes the following steps:
This technique is very powerful since it allows you to work without interruptions and be completely focused when it is time to concentrate, and it allows you to relax and deal with other items like social media or to simply rest during the other time period, which encourages concentration and improves the performance of the task you have to do. The time of rest must be taken effectively in order to distract yourself from work, therefore you can walk a little, drink some coffee or tea, use social media, have a brief chat with a co-worker that is also taking a break, or any activity that allows you to completely take your mind off work.
We use this technique very frequently during our work sessions, both in a group or individually, but we decided to use another variant of the technique, in which we use a 50 minute interval of concentration and a 10 minute period of rest, and we repeat this break down throughout the duration of the activity we are doing.
You may find that the 25/5 interval is a better fit for you, or the 50/10, you could even decide that you need still longer periods of time depending on the activity you are doing, the good thing about this technique is that you can modify it to the type of work you do, whether you need shorter or longer intervals, you can adapt it to your needs. Once you find the suitable break down for your type of work, we suggest you use this technique again and again, and you will see surprising results when you concentrate completely on an activity during a time period and give yourself the chance to rest during another time period.
An important part of the Pomodoro Technique, besides the time periods of concentration, are the breaks, and the original technique recommends that for each 4 Pomodoro's (work cycles), a longer break is taken so that the person can recharge their energy in order to be able to do another 4 cycles in the best possible way. An example of this would be:
Pomodoro 1 – 25 minutes of work / 5 minutes of rest
Pomodoro 2 – 25 minutes of work / 5 minutes of rest
Pomodoro 3 – 25 minutes of work / 5 minutes of rest
Pomodoro 4 – 25 minutes of rest / 20 minutes of rest
This tool can be used in many industries, it is used a lot in companies for its work or planning meetings, where it is necessary that the participants maintain their concentration. It’s known that it is more effective in industries that include creative processes and also for activities that require considerable physical labor.
Even though this technique works very well in most cases, there are some where it is not very productive, like in automated manufacturing lines among others. Also there are cases where people do not get used to pacing their work this way, and they opt to return to their normal way of working, but in most cases, you can see a considerable increase in the productivity of people who use it and we definitely recommend it as one of the tools to achieve your objectives.
Doing activities using this technique turns out to be very gratifying, since you can see results from the very first time you try it. Most people work better when they have a specific goal to accomplish; in this case you have a set amount of time and you keep working against the clock to accomplish the activity you set out to do. Perhaps you won’t finish on time, but you can start another interval and keep yourself motivated to get all your activities done.
Niow, it’s your turn to try this technique and let us know what results you experienced. If you were familiar with it already, let us know what benefits you have found and what suggestions you have for those who are just beginning to use this productivity technique.
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Daniel Díaz Guerrero