Being a software engineer, I had always had a problem. I used to procrastinate a lot. Sometimes I didn’t work for a couple of days and just couldn’t push myself to start working on the following days. I usually ended up procrastinating days on end.
Eventually, in these terrible periods when I didn’t work, I started surfing the Internet to find a silver bullet and kill laziness inside of me. I was sure it was impossible, it’s not really smart to even think about it. But, much to my surprise, I found a way how to be productive, focused and meet deadlines.
“Pomodoro” was the magic word.
The Pomodoro technique is a really simple method, yet unexpectedly effective. I was over the moon when I started using it, it changed my professional life dramatically. It’s developed in the 80s though, so many people know about it, but it was brand new for me, so I think it’s worth sharing it one more time in the second decade of the 21st century.
How it works
The technique is pretty straightforward. You decide what task you’re going to do within the next 25 minutes, set a timer for that period, focus on your task at hand, and once the timer rings you draw a tomato (Pomodoro) on a piece of paper (or just a checkmark, or cross, or whatever you want). After that, you take a 5-minute break and then start over.
Four pomodoros form a set, and when you’ve got a set, you take a 30-minute break instead of a 5-minute one.
During these breaks, you don’t have to work at all. Surf the web, text your friends, go for a stroll, do whatever you want (make sure you don’t break any law). But when your timer is running, focus on your work and avoid interruptions as much as possible.
So, your periods of work and breaks look like that:
If you finish your task earlier than in 25 minutes, then the initial idea of the technique is to add a Pomodoro and stop working. But, to make it even simpler, I just go to the next task and basically just work during these 25-minute periods without interruption no matter how many tasks I close within one Pomodoro.
And, of course, you can adjust all these periods to make it work for you. Your longer breaks can be just 15 minutes, and shorter ones — 3 or 10 minutes. Doesn’t matter, the main thing is to make it work for you personally.
It really helps
I have to confess, there are some days when I just don’t feel like working at all. And I used to constantly find excuses to not work at all, I would check my mail, surf the Internet, check my social media, do anything but work.
But now, I know that I’ll be able to do all these nice things, such as watching YouTube or checking Instagram, later when I have my 5- or 30-minute break, so I can focus on my work, even if I don’t want to. And, surprisingly, there are fewer and fewer days when I want to procrastinate, and most of the time I feel that I’m at my peak performance.
It’s a great way to be productive!
I had concerns if these short breaks would interfere with my flow of thoughts and prevent from finding solutions and achieving results since it looked that it was hard to be focused when I had to be interrupted two times an hour.
But the opposite is true.
Whenever I have a complex task and it’s hard to find a solution, I’m trying to address the issue within 25 minutes and if I fail, I stand up, stretch my legs, walk a bit and a solution pops up in my mind automatically. And if it doesn’t, at least I think from a different perspective and can find different approaches on how to do what I want to do. It’s a great way to unplug, and, after a while, start thinking fresh and find a solution.
Now, no longer do I have these terrible times when, as a developer, I’m stuck for hours on end trying to find a small bug in code.
Also worth mentioning that that method can help with maintaining wellness. I let my eyes have breaks during work hours and it helps a lot. Also, I walk around the office every half an hour and it seems vital considering the sedentary lifestyle. I even no longer experience carpal tunnel syndrome, since I remember to exercise my hands.
As you can see, there are so many benefits of that technique and not each of them is related to time management. Thus, if you have the difficulties mentioned above, maybe you should try the Pomodoro technique and realize if it’s of any good for you.
P.S. There is a bunch of different apps that can run timers for you specifically according to the Pomodoro technique and notify you when it’s time to take a break or start working, so it’s simple to start using this method with no effort.