Using the Pomodoro Method to Get More Done

The Pomodoro Method is a simple hack that helps keep you focused and more productive during the work day. It gets it's name from the kitchen timer that is shaped like a tomato, or "pomodoro" in Italian.

How it Works

In one sentence: you work in 25 minute chunks (called "pomodoros") with a 5 minute break in between.

In more detail:

Step 1. Decide what to work on next.
Step 2. Set a 25 minute timer, and only work on that thing for the next 25 minutes (stiff-arm any distractions that come up, or schedule them for later).
Step 3. Make a check mark on your action pad, celebrating your completed work
Step 4. Take a 5 minute break
Step 5. Every 4 pomodoros (~2 hrs), take a longer 15-30 min break.

Why it Works

There are a few keys to this simple technique that take advantage of the science of how our brains work.

1. Helps you focus on your task
Many studies have now shown us that multi-tasking is a myth - that it's actually more efficient to focus on one task at a time. When you focus, you become like a laser beam. Most of us working at computer screens all day have way too much access to distractions. When things get boring or difficult, it's too easy to slip out to email or social media. Deciding what to work on next and committing to work on only that, forces you to focus your work. As a bonus, if you speak out loud what you're going to do, this actually helps your brain align with your intention to focus on that task. See! Talking to yourself is not all crazy.

2. Breaks work into bite sized chunks
One challenge we face with focusing on our work is that it can seem endless. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Breaking our work into attainable, bite-sized chunks helps our brain manage the complexity of the task before us, and our willpower to put-forward the effort to just get this next step done.

3. Trains you to rest your brain
It turns out staring at a screen all day is not good for us. And trying to focus for hours at a time will cause fatigue. This is why it's important to take breaks. By taking a break, standing up, and moving around, our brain (and our eyes) gets a chance to rest. It's like running. When you run-rest-run, you go farther than if you just run. The Pomodoro Method builds in these breaks. If we don't build them in, we'll still take them, but they could last for hours as we fall deeper and deeper into the distractions of the internet. By having them built-in & scheduled, our brain gets a good break and we get back to work promptly.

4. It's Habit Building
Our brains love habits! Some studies estimate that up to 40% of the actions we take everyday are habitual. Hidden inside the Pomodoro Method is an ingenious habit loop. The habit is 25 minutes of work, and there's a mini reward of checking a box and striking the task off your list, followed by a rest break. Although it seems unimportant, this tiny act of ticking something off gives your brain a tiny endorphin boost. And this step helps build a 3 part habit loop: work, tick, rest. This is how habits are built. If you can stick with this method for a while you have a good chance of building a strong productivity habit.

5. Creates a sense of urgency
When you set a timer and state your intention to get this thing done in this much time, your brain gets into task accomplishment mode. It's the same as when you set a 5 minute timer to focus on cleaning a room. The timer helps you ignore distractions, focus on getting things done, and cut to the heart of the matter - focusing on the most important 20%.

Our Action Planner Pad is designed to integrate with this method - after you decide on your tasks for the day you can schedule them in pomodoro sized chunks that you check off when you're done.

Try using the Pomodoro Method for greater productivity today.

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