Can a Tomato Help You Work?
Hands up if you've ever heard of 'The Pomodoro Technique'?
If you haven't then let me introduce it to you, first off the Pomodoro Technique is about time management, the ‘Pomodoro’ in question isn’t the edible kind but instead refers to the typical tomato shaped kitchen timer.
The technique was mentioned to me as an off the cuff comment during a training session on scrum, but as these sometimes do, it stuck with me and I thought I would investigate. You can find the idea referenced on the internet in wikipedia and other places, but the ‘home of the pomodoro’ is probably http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/
So exactly what do we with that timer then?
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
- decide on the task to be done
- set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
- work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
- take a short break (5 minutes)
- every four "pomodori" take a longer break (15–20 minutes)
It sounds simple, - it is just another way of splitting your day up, obviously you need to still manage meetings and other items, but the point about this technique is that it simply works. I’m not suggesting that you use the idea for your long term time management, but sometimes if you need to add some focus or motivation it is great. (Of course if you try it and want to use it permanently who's going to say no!)
I find that if I spend a day or two using pomodoro when there is one of those ‘humps’ of work it is fantastic for splitting the work into parts and then sitting and concentrating on the issue piece by piece. I find that as each time segment ticks down I really dig deep to finish the task in those 25 minutes, I do ensure that I include some pomodori for doing email etc during the day too. You don't need a physical timer either, there are some good software timers out there such as GTD (Get Things Done) and Pomodoro for windows, but the one I've ended up using most is Pomodroido for my android phone.
Try it, it sounds daft that a tomato is going to help your work life, but it really can!