Using the Pomodoro technique to end procrastination and get things done
There was a time in my life when I was a really bad procrastinator. I realize how that this was one of the manifestations of my depression related to the fact that I was engaging in activities (jobs, organizations, and relationships) that I probably didn’t need to be involved in. Whoever said that no one procrastinates when they really want to do something was certainly speaking the truth.
Friends and colleagues offered a myriad of solutions that worked for them: use of lists, cleaning your desk, the buddy system, announcing your intentions and your deadlines, and using one calendar for all deadline. Maybe it was my stubbornness or the fact that on a subconscious level I realized that I was in the wrong environment, but all of their suggestions went in one ear and right out of the other. I had to tackle this problem my own way.
Instead of looking for methods to end procrastination for the rest of my life, I concentrated on looking for methods that forced me to focus for short periods of time. I didn’t know it but those methods are described as time-boxing techniques. Time-boxing techniques are time-management systems in which a period of time is assigned for a particular activity. One such method is the Pomodoro technique developed by Francesco Cirillo, an Italian computer programmer. “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for tomato.
Set aside a pomodoro or 25 minutes to concentrate fully on a task. At the end of the 25-minute period, take a 5-minute break. At the end of four or five pomodoros, take a longer break. If you stop a pomodoro for any reason or if someone interrupts you, you have to begin the pomodoro again. Repeat the process until the task has been completed.
The wonderful thing about the system is its simplicity and effectiveness can be used in most task driven situations. There are computer and smart phone apps available but all you really need is a timer and a piece of scratch paper to keep track of your pomodoros.
My Personal Pomodoro Technique
1. I make a list of tasks to be completed for the week.
2. Before I start the pomodoro, I close my email program, calendar and any other computer applications (including my internet browser) and expand the window of the program I am working on to occupy the entire frame of my desktop.
3. I begin working as soon as the timer starts and I focus intensely for twenty-five minutes.
4. With the ding of timer indicating that pomodoro is over, I stand up and stretch.
5. After 5 minutes, I begin another pomodoro and I repeat the process 4 or 5 times.
6. After the 4th or 5th pomodoro, I take a longer break. When I worked in an office, I would take a 15-minute break to step outside or check emails. Now that I work from home my breaks are longer. I’ll go for a walk or put a load of clothes in the laundry.
7. I complete the pomodoro-short break-long break cycle 4 or 5 times depending on the project or the deadline.
The technique forces one to focus and as a result not only have I accomplished more but also I am more aware of my time. This awareness has allowed me to offer more accurate estimates to my clients.
I hope these strategies help you.