Time Management Training - The Pomodoro Technique

Time Management Training is one of our favourites. There’s so much to do in them and so many techniques to learn. Today I’m going to share a popular time management technique with you. Many of our participants have used and benefitted by this technique. And I’m sure you will too. So, here goes…


The Pomodoro Technique

This is a technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s. It made use of a timer which was shaped like a tomato. Hence the name ‘Pomodoro’ which means tomato in Italian.

The technique was used successfully by Francesco for managing time while studying during his university days. And is now used across the globe by students and professionals alike.


Using the Technique

I’ll describe the steps to you one by one so that its easy to understand.

Step 1: Making your To-Do List

Make a note of all the activities and tasks that you have to complete in the day. Prioritise your list. You can use the Time Management Matrix or other tools for the same.

Step 2: Work for 1 Pomodoro

1 Pomodoro has been defined by Francesco as a period of 25 minutes. So, you can set your timer for 25 minutes and start working on your first task during that time.

Step 3: Review Progress

After working for 1 Pomodoro, review your progress.

Step 4: Take a Break

Now reward yourself with a 5 minute break. You can do whatever you consider as a ‘break’ during this time. Some people may want to chit chat with their colleagues or friends, while others may want to surf the internet. There are also those who may want to sit quietly and do nothing, giving their mind a break from ‘doing.’ Do whatever you please.

Step 5: Repeat the Cycle

Work for the next 2,3 and 4 Pomodoro’s, reviewing your progress after each and taking the 5 minute break thereafter.

Step 6: Take a Long Break

After completing the 4th Pomodoro and reviewing your progress, take a long break of 15 to 30 minutes.


How the Technique helps

You may be wondering how this entire exercise helps in improving time management. Well, let me explain.


  • Focus

Nowadays, we all have issues when it comes to focus, especially with the massive number of distractions around us! One thing will realise while following the technique, is that your focus really increases during each Pomodoro. And in fact, the amount of work you are able to complete in the day goes up substantially due to it.


  • Managing Distractions

For those who have trouble managing distractions, this technique provides them a lot of relief. How? By allotting a separate time for distractions! Yes, you are allowed to cater to all your distractions during your breaks. Which is quite frequent being every 25 minutes! And which also means, that it’s important to say no to these distractions during the Pomodoro.


  • Taking Breaks

Many of us are used to working for hours together at a stretch without taking breaks. This is actually not a great way of working as our productivity keeps reducing with progressing time. The Pomodoro Technique helps, by making us take regular breaks and gives our minds a fresh start every half an hour.


  • Chunking

When we have too many things on our plate, it’s quite natural to get overwhelmed and stressed. Which, by the way, is detrimental to managing time well! The Pomodoro technique looks after this aspect well too. Firstly, it makes us create a list of all our tasks which ensures we don’t forget any. Then we prioritise them, making sure we complete the important one’s first. After that, we pick up one task at a time and work on it. We avoid multitasking as we usually tend to do. As some of you may be aware, humans cannot actually multitask. Our brains are designed to handle a single task at any point of time. Therefore, its best to pick up one task, complete it and then move to the next. This can really help those who have a tendency to juggle many tasks at a time and not actually complete any!

I could go on and on with the list of advantages of this technique, but I want to give you a chance to add some of your own too!


A Useful Tip

There is one more point I would like to make before I close. In fact, it’s a question that often pops up during Time Management training sessions. Can we increase the Pomodoro duration to say 45 minutes or maybe an hour? Of course you can. Keep the time based on what works best for you. Why Francesco probably used 25 minutes, is because that’s the average time for which a human being can focus on a task. After that, the mind starts getting bored. But if your mind can take longer durations then that’s fine. Just ensure you don’t apply my personalisation tip too much to the break period😉

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