ORGANIZE: boost your productivity

organize boost your productivity

Have you heard about the Pomodoro Technique? I learned about it just recently, because my husband has been using it for his studies and once I tried it I got pretty amazed with the results. Seriously, it has been the best way to increase productivity for me so far. Here's how it works.

You run your timer for 25 minutes, during which you work on your current task without interruptions. When the timer rings, you stop, set the timer for 5 minutes, take a break and do something unrelated to your work. Then you repeat. After you've done four rounds, take a longer break, 20-30 minutes. It's that easy!

I've tried working this way for most days last week and I got pretty excited about how much more work I was getting done. I started with a daily to-do list and just ran all the tasks I had listed during those 25 minute sessions. I did not divide the tasks between sessions, instead I just did whatever was next on the list, stopped for five minutes whenever the timer rang and continued from where I left off when the next session started. During the longer breaks I had lunch, went for a walk or did a short workout (if working from home, I wouldn't work out in the middle of our shared office, that would be weird!)

The first couple of days I got a bit stressed out, cause I felt like I'm in a constant rush. When you really concentrate on your tasks, those 25 minute sessions run really fast, as do the 5 minute breaks. But after a while I got a better hold of the technique and actually started enjoying it. I have trouble concentrating on tasks for more that 30 minutes, so 25 minute sessions are perfect for me, because I don't get a chance to loose my concentration. Short breaks really let my brain wander off and relax and when I'm back to work I'm ready to concentrate again. During those short breaks I usually get up, stretch my back a little, and try to get off the computer. From time to time I use those breaks to check e-mail and social media, but that should not be the majority of those breaks. I'm especially happy that I don't feel extremely tired in the end of a work day, like I used to. Before I implemented the technique I'd get really tired in the end of a work day, especially if I spent it all staring at the computer screen (I'm trying to implement a half computer/half making daily schedule, but it hasn't been always working yet). Some days I'd show up at a band rehearsal after work and be unable to play at all, so I ended up complaining about how tired I was most of the time. Things like that made me really unhappy about how I spend my free time. I wanted to enjoy making and playing music and spending time with my friends and family. Apparently, having enough breaks during the work day does the trick! I kind of knew that, but did not have any proper strategy to add enough breaks into my days. Now I do!

So here is what implementing the Pomodoro Technique did for me:

- Doubled my productivity
- Decreased tiredness after work day
- Allowed me to work longer days, when needed, without getting too exhausted
- Taught me to enjoy the tasks I didn't enjoy before
- Gave me insight at how long different tasks take me to complete
- Increased the quality of my free time
- Increased my overall feeling of accomplishment and happiness about my work
- Increased the amount of physical activity I get during the day
- Decreased the pains that came from sitting or standing in one position for too long (e.g. back and neck pains)
- Decreased the amount of time I spend procrastinating

I really encourage you guys to try it, if you feel that your days could be more productive than they are now, if you get tired at the end of your work days, if you tend to procrastinate and find it difficult to concentrate on a task for long enough for it to get done.

One more tip I'd like to share about implementing this technique is downloading an app onto your smartphone. It makes it much more convenient, than setting the timer again and again. The app will notify you of the start and end of each session as well as when it's time to take a longer break. There are plenty of apps if you search for "pomodoro". I've tried a couple and stuck to using the one called "Flat Tomato", because it lets me choose times for my sessions (even though i try to stick to the classic 25+5), it runs well on the background when I use other apps and it lets me set it to vibrate, which is great for working at a shared office where I can't let my phone ring every 25 and then 5 minutes, that would annoy my officemates too much. I suggest you download several apps and see which one works best with the way you work. Just remember: you REALLY concentrate for 25 minutes and you REALLY rest for 5 minutes after that, and that is the secret ;)

If you try it I'd love to know how you feel about this strategy, so please share in the comments! Oh and you can find more information on the Pomodoro website. I'm still new to this, but I just couldn't wait to share, because I was blown away with the results.

If you feel this isn't working for you, check this post I wrote a while ago about how different techniques work for different people. For more posts on planning, organizing and productivity go here.


3 comments:

  1. Truth. I should get back to this technique. It got me through my Master's thesis for SURE.

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    1. And PS, I prefer a desktop timer to a phone one, because I'm on the computer anyway when I'm using this. At present I use "focus booster".

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  2. Super interesting, I will have to try it out! Thanks!

    Lexy

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