I work in a middle school and the end of our year is quickly approaching. As such I need to get myself in the zone and prepare to wrap up this year. However, the sun draws my attention as do the singing birds, the growing flowers, and budding trees. Every cell in my body wants to get outside! Yet, I have things that need my attention inside and stat!
The Pomodoro Technique
While it has been around for some 20+ years, I just recently discovered the Pomodoro Technique. This time management method is simple and quite honestly similar to time management methods that I use with my children. You’d think I would have thought to apply this to myself. Ha! Sometimes those obvious connections just aren’t made. In the Pomodoro Technique you determine the task(s) that need tackling and then set a timer for 25 minutes. Go! The whole idea is that we can maintain diligent focus on a task for that amount of time knowing that we have a 5-minute break after the session has ended. During the 5-minute break, I read or check my email, and then restart my 25-minute timer for my next focus session. I actually set a timer for the break too otherwise that 5 minutes would surely slip into much more.
I’ve been doing this at work this week and have found it extremely effective and I feel good about what I’ve been able to accomplish in a shorter amount of time than if I were trying to multi-task. Our brains do not like multi-tasking and aren’t good at it, despite our perceptions on the topic. If you’ve never tried setting up focus times for your task list, give this a try and let me know how it feels to you!
One last note on this topic. Do not set yourself up for failure. If you know that you will need to head to a meeting shortly or that you’re likely to get interrupted, don’t set a 25-minute timer! There were a few times this week when I took note of my calendar and was realistic about the time I could reliably focus on a task and then adjusted my timer appropriately. On the days where I had multiple meetings, I inserted several 10-minute timers and got sh#* done! I will admit that I didn’t get as much accomplished (duh) and didn’t experience the same satisfaction as working for 25 minutes before taking a break, but I was impressed at my constructive use of 10 minutes that I could have easily wasted surfing the web or organizing my email inbox.
There’s just something motivating about setting a limit on a task that is not appealing or simply requires concentrated brain power. I have already decided that I will continue to use this method this summer with those dreaded summer projects that mostly involve cleaning and purging, which I dislike greatly. I also plan to use this method for enjoyable tasks too, like writing, reading, researching, and learning the business of making candles. Stay tuned 😊