What do tomatoes and productivity have in common? Nothing, unless you’re talking about the Pomodoro Technique. Created in the late 1980’s by Italian Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro (Tomato) Technique is designed to eliminate multi-tasking and distraction when you’re trying to complete a task; in essence it’s a productivity hack and who doesn’t love those!
So, how does Francesco’s Pomodoro Technique help you get stuff done? It all came about when he started using a tomato shaped egg timer, ergo the association with the fruit, to allocate a 25 minute block of time or pomodoro to focus on completing a single task or project before taking a 5 minute break. After completing four pomodori he then took a 25 – 30 minute break. According to this technique, when it comes to taking breaks you should ideally do something very different to the task you have just completed, in order to fully refresh and recharge your mind. So, if you’ve been staring at a computer screen for your pomodoro then you should go for a short walk.
Now obviously 25 minutes isn’t going to cut the mustard if you have a massive project to work on and the technique certainly doesn’t endorse cutting corners or doing a meagre job just so you can finish a task within the allotted time, so there is wriggle room with this method. You can use multiple pomodori for completing larger and more complicated tasks, as well as for smaller and quicker tasks that are related, such as checking and replying to emails & voicemails and responding to social media posts, all of which fall under the communication umbrella. Completing similar tasks in a single burst is also known as batching and this technique will stop those little tasks from interrupting your flow and focus, something we’re all guilty of, so turn off those email and social media notifications!
Hacks like this are especially necessary in the modern workplace. Distractions are rife, none more so than in an open plan office, where the cacophony of chitter-chatter, loud music and desk neighbours munching on their lunches and pounding their hands against their keyboards can easily become overwhelming. Email and social media notifications are constantly pinging trying to grab our attention and as I’ve certainly found to my detriment, trying to multi-task and juggle lots of tasks at once is really inefficient – ultimately nothing gets finished and I’m left feeling frazzled.
Sounds pretty straight forward right? Allocate a manageable 25 minute block of time to complete one task and one task alone, before having a breather and cracking onto the next one. Adopting stricter deadlines and working in bite sized chunks is efficient and productive, especially when you consider that we tend to instinctively take longer to complete tasks if we set too generous a deadline. Parkinson’s Law sums it up nicely I think – work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
For other productivity tips and tricks check out my blog on How You Can Work Smarter Not Harder.
Written by Alisa Moore, Research & Community Manager at Gaulter Russell Numero, a Rubicor Company