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STRONGER TOGETHER: Boosting productivity with the Pomodoro Technique - a simple way to create extra time in your day

Last updated: 08/11/2022

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses boosting productivity with The Pomodoro Technique

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

How much more could you get done if you could give your full attention to what you were working on?

Distractions, social media, procrastination, excuses – all impediments that can quickly become problematic for the time poor. 

So how is it that some people have their ‘to do’ list firmly under control and remain calm in the face of a deadline while others consistently scramble to keep up?  

Research suggests that people who struggle with time management are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, sleep issues, stress, professional burnout and other mental health issues. In previous columns, I have also talked about how challenging multitasking is for our brains – we are much more productive when we focus energy and effort on just one thing. Finding techniques that support us to use our time more effectively is therefore as important for our health as it is for our productivity.

Cue ‘The Pomodoro Technique’ - the brainchild of businessman Francesco Cirillo. As a student, Cirillo found himself easily distracted so he set himself a challenge to increase the time he spent focused on study. Using a red kitchen timer in the shape of a pomodoro (tomato in English), Cirillo started at two minutes, incrementally increasing his focused time to one hour. After some trial and error, he found the sweet spot was 25 minutes followed by a 2-3 minute break.

The Pomodoro Technique is a useful way of reducing distractions and focusing on just one thing. Imagine deliberately pressing pause on social media, phone reminders, colleague interruptions and phone calls. I refer to this as ‘living the dream!’

The beauty of the technique is the only equipment needed is a timer and a way of keeping track of your ‘Pomodoro’s’ (or focused time)!

Interested in giving it a go?

Grab your timer and work through these six steps in order:

  1. Identify the task you would like to work on
  2. Predict how long the task will take to complete
  3. Set a timer for 25 minutes (think 1 Pomodoro)  
  4. Remove distractions eg turn off your phone, find a quiet space. Focus solely on the task for the duration of the Pomodoro (25 minutes)
  5. When the timer goes off, take a break for 2-3 minutes  
  6. For every 4 Pomodoro’s (think 4 times 25-minute blocks), allow a longer break (20-25 minutes) 

Play around with it. If 25 minutes is too much at first, start small and increase the time until you find your own sweet spot.   

In a world where there are more demands than ever on our time and attention, finding ways to do more in less time makes sense for our mental health and our overall wellbeing.

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