I first heard of a time management tool called the Pomodoro Technique a few months ago while taking a webinar on how another professional organizer stays organized using technology. I was immediately intrigued and started looking into it, and now I want to share it with you!
I am old fashioned when it comes to my to do list and always have it written out on a big pad of paper on my desk. I find it very important to segment my to do list by three main categories (personal, business, and volunteer work) so I don't zig-zag around and get distracted. The Pomodoro Technique works the same way by segmenting your TIME. Basically, the Pomodoro Technique has you work in 25 minute chunks of time with breaks in between. You focus on one area or task and work your heart out until the time goes off, then take a break.
How do I use it personally? I don't work in Pomodoros all the time, but I have implemented the technique on my administrative days and times when I have lots of tasks to handle. When I'm working in a Pomodoro, I don't bounce around from business to personal to another category. For example, I will only work on marketing-related business tasks for 25 minutes and ignore anything else that comes in until I'm done with my Pomodoro, be it personal or Junior League or something else. I've found that what once would have distracted me can now wait until my 25 minutes are done. My FAVORITE thing is that I'm learning not to think that every email or text needs to be replied to right away. Most things can wait at least a few minutes. After all, organizing emergencies really ARE rare. :)
Check out the Pomodoro Technique's website here.
Here's how to do it:
1. Gather your to do list, pen, notepad, and a timer. There are plenty of Pomodoro timers available in the app store. If you find yourself REALLY distracted by your phone, go old school and get a kitchen timer.
2. Decide which area of your to do list you'd like to tackle and which tasks can reasonably be done in a distraction-free 25 minute period.
3. Set the timer for 25 minutes.
4. Get to work! Do your best to stay on task. If something random pops into your head (I need to email that contract out! I need to pick up milk!), write it down and get right back to work.
5. At the end of your Pomodoro, take a break. This is very important! Studies show that our productivity and focus are dramatically reduced after 25 minutes, so take the time to go on a walk, get a snack, or read. Your next Pomodoro will be more productive for it!
There are tons of time management tools and techniques, but I love this one because it's not gimmicky or difficult to use. Try it out this week and see if it works for you!