I knew today was going to be a busy day for me. I’ve got a couple big deadlines this week and my mom is having knee replacement surgery on Wednesday so I’m trying to get as much as I can done by tomorrow.
To help myself stay on track, I’m doing two things.
1. First things first
I knew I needed to get a big chunk of my most important project done first. Doing the most important thing first is one of the most critical (and obvious!) time management techniques.
But it’s something I’m not very good at.
What I really wanted to do when I got up this morning was to start writing this blog post. But as a morning person, I’m most focused first thing in the morning, meaning I would be best able to focus on that project. And I knew it would relieve some stress if I got a jump on the important thing first.
2. The Pomodoro Technique
The second thing I’m doing is using the Pomodoro Technique to boost my productivity. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato. The technique’s inventor, Francesco Cirillo, used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer when he came up with the technique about thirty years ago.
The Pomodoro Technique is pretty simple:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes. (I use my phone: Siri, wake me in 25 minutes.)
- During this 25 minutes, focus on one task as intensely as you can. Don’t let yourself be distracted by anything else. Turn off your alerts; don’t check your email; don’t answer the phone.
- When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break. Resist the temptation to keep working or do work-related tasks like checking email during the break. I like to get up, walk around, maybe do some exercises or have a quick solo dance party in my office. Sometimes I check the news, Facebook or Twitter.
- When your five minute break is up, start another block of time. You could keep working on the same project or shift to something different. These blocks of time are known as Pomodoros.
- After four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.
It’s now almost 10:30 and I’ve spent four Pomodoros (about two hours) on my most pressing project and two Pomodoros (about one hour) writing this blog post. I feel good about where I’m at and I’ve even carved out 90 minutes later in the day to go to the gym.
What about you? Have you tried the Pomodoro technique? What time management strategies work for you?