Do you find yourself getting more distracted lately?
Do you find the combination of your mobile phone, computer, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. shortening your attention span and interrupting you on a more frequent basis?
The Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that I have begun to use quite a lot lately. The reason is that I have found myself getting increasingly distracted in my work.
Let me explain.
Most of my work day is spent at my computer and this is absolutely essential, but because a lot of my business initially comes through email enquiries I would always have my email account open. I use Gmail.
I also use social media quite heavily to promote my business and build my platform.
But the distractions from my email notifications, new email messages, Google calendar reminders, comments on some stuff that I may have shared on LinkedIn or elsewhere, text messages, mobile phone calls, landline calls, faxes, Twitter notifications on my phone, etc. make it increasingly hard to concentrate on any one thing for a period of time.
I strongly believe this is dangerous and is breeding a mind that is a little bit on the “grasshopper” side-jumping from one thing to another with a short attention span.
So, I have been using the Pomodoro technique and, I must say, have found it really useful and effective.
It was developed in the 1980s by an Italian man, Francesco Cirillo, and it works like this: you work in sessions of 25 minutes and take a break of 5 minutes between the 25 minute sessions. “Pomodoro” in Italian means “tomato” and the tomato shaped kitchen timer used by Cirillo gives this time management technique its name.
I find it works really well because when you sit down for a session you know you only have to work solidly and with concentration for 25 minutes; then you get a break.
Maybe it is the break and the knowledge that you are only working for 25 minutes which makes working in a concentrated fashion easier but I guess it is a little like the answer to the question of how do you eat an elephant:“one bite at a time”.
It is easier to work in intervals of 25 minutes rather than thinking about a day of 8 or 10 hours stretching out in front of you.
It is critical that you set a timer and stick to the 25 minutes sessions. You can get a physical timer, or use your phone, or there are many browser extensions and online timers which you can download to your computer and which will alarm when the 25 minutes are up. Here’s the one I use with the Google Chrome browser.
When you have 4 sessions done you can take a longer break of, say, 15-30 minutes. And you can be flexible with your breaks but the important thing, I think, is that you are focused for the 25 minutes once the session starts.
Apparently there is benefit to the task of winding up a physical timer, hearing the ticking during the session, and the alarm at the end signifying the break.
Regardless of the psychological reasons for the effectiveness of the Pomodoro technique, I find it really useful to switch on the timer and commit fully to something for a relatively short, but substantial, block of time.
It works for me.
If you find yourself getting more distracted in your daily work, try the Pomodoro technique. You have nothing to lose but some distractions that you can probably manage perfectly well without.