What is a pomodoro? Yes it’s delicious sauce made of fresh tomatoes basil and olive oil that you can mix in with pasta. But it’s also a time management technique and it’s magic. Some of you may already be aware of this secret sauce but I thought I’d share this for the benefit of those who are not.
Why is it magic? Well, think about the way we all work now… open offices, constant interruptions, pings and notifications, communication and multi tasking overhead, it’s amazing we can get any work done at all.
After discovering pomodoros, I was surprised what I could achieve with extreme focus when everything else was ignored except one task I’m currently working on. It’s really when you decide to focus on one thing and ignore everything else for 25 mins at a time that magic starts to happen.
A simple technique originally developer in the 1980’s by an Italian University student name Cirillo. Pomodoro is used globally now as a form of time boxing and in software design in paired programming contexts. At its simplest, it’s a 4 step process listed below.
1. Decide on the task to be done
2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes)
3. Work on the task
4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper
Then you just repeat this process over and over again. Some tasks only require one pomodoro (eg. Checking emails in the morning) and some complex and involved tasks need 5 or 6 pomodoros. When work is timeboxed into 25 min intervals, its easier to become productive and when the whole office is doing it people stop casually interrupting people that are in pomodoro sprints (slack is still ok) and everyone becomes more focused and productive (and happier). The other little benefit is that at the end of a pomodoro you can take a guilt free 5 min break. I have a pomodoro timer that I got at the Mac App Store for $7 which combines a to do list and pomodoro timer so you can stack your pomodoros for the day.
Changing to this type of work does require a change of mindset and some discipline to get started and stay focused on one task but once the concept of pomodoros starts to kick in, it will change the way you work forever!