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The Pomodoro Technique: The Key to Successful Time Management

Get to know this way of working–your brain will thank you!

You'll have already figured it out by now: human beings are not machines. Although many of us would love to be able to perform at a steady pace for hours at a time, inevitably, our attention wanes, our brainpower deteriorates, and we can become prone to procrastination.

To perform well, to make the most challenging days productive, we must understand how our brains work and organize our planning around that information–that's what the Pomodoro Technique is all about.

The Pomodoro Technique: The Key to Successful Time Management 1
Priority lists are a key part of every productivity plan.

Why is it called Pomodoro?

I'm sure you're wondering what productivity has to do with a pasta sauce. Well, nothing. The method was named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Francesco Cirillo, the creator of this technique, would use to break up his days.

What is it?

The Pomodoro Technique structures study and work time in short but high-intensity intervals, followed by short (and not so short) breaks that make your work much more bearable. To apply it, you need to:

1. Work out what your tasks are.

Systematize what you must do and what you need to focus on by making a priority list. Assign colors, numbers, or shapes to each task in a new day to signal how important they are.

The Pomodoro Technique: The Key to Successful Time Management 3
Organizational systems require you to create a hierarchy of tasks.

2. Shut off your surroundings

You really have to disconnect and shut off your surroundings. Block messages and calls. During the time spent working using this method, you cannot allow any kind of distraction. Keep in mind that this method’s success is down to the intensity of the time you devote to the task.

3. Time each interval

Now that you are clear about what you have to focus on, set a timer to track how long each interval lasts. The recommended way to break up your time is as follows: you will dedicate 25 minutes to your tasks, after which you will take a 5-minute break. After four cycles of 25 minutes, you should take a longer break of 20 or 30 minutes.

During this long break, you should really disconnect and genuinely enjoy yourself. The idea is to keep away from unfinished business–don’t continue to stress yourself out. Go for a walk, chat with a friend, make yourself something tasty to eat. You will come back refreshed, and you will have increased your productivity without putting yourself under more stress. Your body will thank you.

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Split up your activities into intervals.

4. Really understand the value of rest

No athlete in his right mind would ever think of exercising for four or five or six hours straight without rest. And if they did, it wouldn't take long for them to collapse. Although it is not a muscle, the brain needs energy and gets exhausted. While it doesn't tire in the same way muscles do, it can become chemically exhausted. In other words, it can deplete certain substances that keep it awake and motivated. This is what happens when we feel we have lost the will and desire to do things throughout the day.

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Take breaks and enjoy a coffee or a chat.

However, don't use the Pomodoro Technique if...

The Pomodoro method is very good for dense tasks that require a lot of concentration to ensure you don’t miss something or cut corners. However, this method is not as effective for certain creative tasks. If you are enthusiastic about a project and feel like you’ve been caught up in a flow of energy where you keep coming up with ideas, there is no point in interrupting that process. Wait until it’s time to put those creative ideas in order before you take a break.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the need to be productive, you might benefit from testing out some time management techniques recommended by professionals. Sign up for the course, Time Management Techniques for Creators and Creatives, by Mònica Rodriguez Limia.

English version by @eloise_edgington.

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