All the boundaries that once existed between the office and personal life seem to blur as the weeks go by. For parents with school-age children the task is titanic, for those who do not have it, the day no longer has scheduled. Nor do those who study become focused. And in many cases there is a time management problem, which is generating a need for effective tools to become more productive.
There is a technique, which is not new but does seem very effective, which are being recalled by media such as The Wall Street Journal and initiatives such as Study with me on YouTube (which simulates the atmosphere of a library for those who prepare university or high school exams. Well, This method is called “The Pomodoro Technique” and was invented in the eighties by an Italian named Francesco Cirillo. It is very simple and according to data from this entrepreneur, more than two million people have already used it to transform their lives, making them more productive, more focused, and even smarter.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
When Cirillo was in university, he named this concentration technique with the name of the tomato-shaped timer (Pomodoro, in Italian) that he took from the kitchen to improve his study sessions. The idea is simple: if you have a large task, divide the time you dedicate into short work periods, called “pomodoros” , which will help make any task, no matter how extensive, feasible.
How does it work?
With this cyclical method we work as follows:
1. Decide the task you are going to do.
2. Set the timer to 25 minutes: this is the measurement of the Pomodoro.
3. Work on that task, uninterrupted, until the alarm sounds.
4. Write down which Pomodoro you have completed and pause for 5 minutes.
5. Repeat the Pomodoro cycle and rest four times.
6. Take a longer break, 15 to 30 minutes, and restart the exercise as many times as necessary.
What objectives are achieved?
As Cirillo explains in his book, The Pomodoro Technique, by applying this system it is possible to master a series of productivity-oriented skills, such as managing interruptions, reducing the duration and number of meetings, simplifying and organizing tasks, improving motivation and the content of the work, meet deadlines and avoid working under pressure, among others.
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Is it effective?
There are different schools of thought when it comes to focus and concentration. There are those who find it convenient to settle in the same occupation for hours, and there are those who prefer to divide work into more affordable tasks. The truth is that this technique has created a certain school and in recent decades versions of the Pomodoro have emerged. One of the most extended changes the intervals from 25 minutes to 90, something more suitable for those who need longer periods of concentration, but maintaining the cycle system. In fact, shortly after Cirillo created his technique, a study found that the best performers practiced at 60-90 minute intervals, with breaks in between. Curiously, this same work is where the idea of the 10,000-hour rule came from, that the author Malcolm Gladwell made famous in the book Outliers, assuring that this was the time that a person needs to truly become an expert in something.
The Pomodoro technique can also be applied to other tasks that take time but are not affected by doing them with a few breaks, such as making a tax return or rearranging the wardrobe.
Three free ‘apps’ to try it out
Although not designed by the author of the method, these apps offer a timer to organize tasks.
Focus To-Do: Combine the Pomodoro technique based concentration timer with a task management list. It allows you to count working hours and focus on certain actions, and you can create reminders, lists, and calendar events. It synchronizes between the phone and the computer, making it accessible from both devices.
Tide: This multifunctional app for physical and mental self-care is designed for people who have trouble sleeping, procrastinators who have difficulty staying focused, creatives who are frequently disturbed by a noisy environment, stressed people who want to manage anxiety and exhaustion, and those who want to start meditating. It has numerous audios and tools to promote mindfulness. It also allows changing the timer in the application settings and activity periods from 5 to 120 minutes can be programmed.
Be Focused – Focus Timer: Allows you to complete activities by dividing them into intervals separated by short breaks. It supports customizing the duration of activity and rest, controlling the times, and pasting a list of tasks from other applications.