A few days ago, the Pomodoro technique was introduced to me by Lifehacker. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. The technique was invented in the last century, 1992 to be precise.

Similar to Interval Training for optimal physical fitness, the pomodoro technique uses bursts of focused activity, separated by mandatory breaks, to improve productivity. The timing must be precise. If you have to stop mid-Google, you do it! If going to the bathroom and opening a beer takes longer than your five-minute break, adjust and be more precise next time. The rules drive you and force you to forget about what time it is and how big the task at hand is.

You can download a little tomato-shaped utility for your computer (which has me lusting for a plastic, tomato-shaped timer like the one pictured) for jobs that must be performed away from the computer.

On paper, you keep an inventory of tasks you want to get to, a few of which get copied to a daily to-do list. On the day’s list, you estimate how many pomodoros the job (or slice of it) will take. It becomes a game to finish within the pomodoro. But you cannot finish early. If you do, you go back over your work to see how you can improve.

Even if 10 minutes into a pomodoro (25 minutes long), you feel the urge to get up and walk to the kitchen looking for a nibble or something interesting to drink, you realize that you can contain your urge for 15 more minutes, when you will be forced to take a five minute break (or every four pomodoros, a 20-30 minute break).

As a self-employed person, I’ve often felt I didn’t have time to manage my business, especially now that I do everything online. There is so much to learn each month. So many new, helpful products to review and possibly buy to accelerate success each week. Plus relationship building and social media. And the relationships that make life more worthwhile.

I downloaded the eBook, a worthwhile read because it also details how to handle interruptions – both external and internal. That is a huge time-saver!

I may tire of the pomodoro technique in a while. Don’t you find we constantly need new practices, new metaphors, new goals, all to keep us fresh and interested in life? –to keep us interesting!

But in the meanwhile, I’m looking for a windup timer that looks like a tomato!


Picture from WikiCommons
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