Roger Stringer   About ▾

I'm Roger Stringer: a father, writer, developer, consultant, chef, speaker. Founder of TheInterviewr.

Multitasking with the Pomodoro technique

 

My day involves writing, working on various projects and spending enough time with my family..

How do I make this all work?

I use a handy little technique called the Pomodoro Time Management Technique..

How It Works

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple. For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically. You work for 25 minutes, then take a break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How can it help you?

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly: “You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing. Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated. The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks, and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating. You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

I’ve used an actual pomodoro for this, but recently have been using apps where I can plan out my day and have it count down for me, then move to the next one..

Some drawbacks

Just to point out though, this method isn’t without it’s drawbacks..

For one thing, it’s kind of an all or nothing thing.. You either work for 25 minutes traight to mark your task as done, or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking it complete is the measuranle sign of progress, you find start to shy away from an activity that won’t result in an X. For example, say it’s 1:10pm and you have a meeting scheduled at 1:30pm, you only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting, so why start a pomodoro if you won’t have time to complete it anyway?

There are ways around this, technically, if you counted the meeting into your scheduled pomodoros for the day, then you would have had time to start the task and then go to the meeting without worrying about not properly completing a pomodoro..

Conclusion

The pomodoro technique isn’t perfect for everyone, but I’ve found it works for multitasking and getting things done in the day, so I’m sharing it so others can try it out and see for themselves.

In fact, I’m writing this article on one of today’s pomodoros

FYI, more info can be found here at the pomodoro website.

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Roger Stringer spends most of his time solving problems for people, and otherwise occupying himself with being a dad, cooking, speaking, learning, writing, reading, and the overall pursuit of life. He lives in Penticton, BC.

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