Time Management Techniques – The Pomodoro Method

When I’m greeted by audience members after presenting a productivity keynote or training, I’m often asked questions about time management techniques, including specifically the Pomodoro Method. I’ve also been asked if it’s related to Pasta Pomodoro.

Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. Pasta Pomodoro is pasta with a tomato and garlic sauce. When you add different meats or poultry, the name changes accordingly. Note that you don’t have to eat Pasta Pomodoro while using the Pomodoro Technique!

What is the Pomodoro Method?

The Pomodoro Method is named after the kitchen timer shaped like a tomato that the inventor of the Pomodoro Technique, Francesco Cirillo, used for timing himself during his college days. The Pomodoro Technique says that you should work for 25 minutes, and then take a break for 5 minutes. Work for 25 minutes, and then take a break for 5 minutes. You repeat this pattern throughout your work day. The principle behind the Pomodoro Method – working, and then taking a break; working, and then taking a break – is backed by science.

Unfortunately, people get hung up about the so-called “required” number of 25 work minutes, so they stop using the Pomodoro Method. What’s important to understand is the principle behind it. Work, then take a break. Work, then take a break. And set a timer for these periods of time so that you’re focused on your work, and you also know when to return from your break.

I’m a believer that you have to find the amount of time that works for you. If you’re successful with the 25 minute work segments, then keep using it. If you work better in 10- or 15- or 20-minute segments, then use those time frames. You might even change the length of your work segments depending on the project. For instance, you might work in 10-minute segments while reconciling receipts because the numbers make your eyes crossed. Or you might work in 45-minute increments while you’re designing a flyer because you love the creative outlet.

In the end, you decide how long of a “work chunk” you’d like to use. Work, then take a break. Work, then take a break. If you’re focused while you work and you give your brain a chance to recharge, you’ll be far more productive.

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