A few weeks ago, one of our programmers shared a favorite technique of his for getting things done and focusing on tasks at work. It’s known as the Pomodoro Technique and is meant to help eliminate the anxiety associated with deadlines while enhancing focus and concentration.
Basically a Pomodoro is a 25 minute block of uninterrupted time in which you are focused solely on the task at hand. After each Pomodoro, you are allowed a 3-5 minute break, which allows you to disconnect from your work before starting the next one. Under this technique, your break should be free from any mentally strenuous tasks.
After every 4 Pomodoros you’re suppose to increase your break to 15-30 minutes, which again shouldn’t involve anything too complex, allowing you to focus properly on the next Pomodoro.
The general steps can be broken down into the following:
- Choose a task from your To Do List
- Set your timer for 25 minutes (the Pomodoro)
- Work on the task until the Pomodoro is up and mark it down on your To Do List
- Take a short break (3-5 minutes) to disconnect from your work.
- Repeat until the task is complete or move onto the next one.
During a Pomodoro the point is not to look at the clock waiting for those 25 minutes to be over, but to proactively force yourself to get that item done. The whole point is to stop thinking about what you need to do, and just do it.
This is a very basic explanation of the technique and their are a variety of other factors such as creating your to do list, recording your progress and managing interruptions, which are all explained in the Pomodoro Technique Book (PDF).
There is even a free web based application based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique to help you stay on target.
Cheers to productivity!