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Published on July 29, 2019

Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer

Why the Pomodoro Method Is the Best Productivity Timer

Studying and concentrating at work isn’t always the easiest thing to do. With so many distractions around, wouldn’t it be great if there was something that could keep you consistently productive throughout the day?

Luckily, there are productivity timers.

Productivity timers are tools that can keep you on task when you find it difficult to focus. And the best one out there is the Pomodoro Method. If you’re after a tried and true technique that can help you to block out distractions, then keep reading to find out more.

What is the Pomodoro Method?

While more of a method than an actual tool, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s that emphasizes timing your work and taking breaks.[1] The name derives from the Italian word for ‘tomato’, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used to time himself when he studied during his time at university.

The method requires you to work in 25 minute intervals, known as pomodoros, while focusing on only one thing. After each pomodoro, you take a 5-minute break, then repeat the process. After completing 4 pomodoros, you’re able to take longer breaks of 15 to 30 minutes.

This method works well as a productivity timer because it forces you to focus on one thing at a time. It’s also effective because it asks you to aim for something that’s actually achievable. The 25 minute intervals you’re expected to work and refrain from distraction is a totally realistic goal.

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Here are 6 simple steps to follow when you want to Pomodoro:

  • Step 1: Pick a task. Remember you can only focus on one thing, so prioritize accordingly.
  • Step 2: Set your timer to 25 minutes. You can simply use the timer on your phone or you can take it up a notch and get yourself a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
  • Step 3: Work on the selected task. For the next 25 minutes, shut off distractions and completely immerse yourself on what’s in front of you.
  • Step 4: When you hear the timer go off, stop working and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  • Step 5: Take a short break. Make sure it doesn’t exceed 5 minutes!
  • Step 6: After you have 4 checkmarks on your piece of paper, you can take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes long. After that, restart your count and repeat steps 1 to 5 until you reach another 4 checkmarks where you can take another longer break.

Why the Pomodoro Method is the Best Productivity Timer

Here’re 5 reasons why the Pomodoro Method is a great productivity timer:

Supercharge Your Focus

The Pomodoro Method is great for training yourself to block out distractions and to concentrate on one thing at a time. By repeating the method over and over again, you can boost your focus levels and tap into your deep thinking skills.

Manage Expectations

Because you’re able to measure the time it takes you to complete tasks more accurately, using this method can help you to manage expectations.

You no longer have to fool yourself—or the people you work with—into thinking you can complete a 3-hour task in half an hour for instance.

Know the Value of Your Time

If you’re a freelancer or someone who works on flat rate projects, the Pomodoro Method is a good way to track the time you spend on your work so that you can charge a fee that is truly reflective of the work you do.

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Maintain Your Wellbeing

Most people who implement the Pomodoro Method are those who are desk-bound, whether working in an office or studying at home or in a library. Because it recommends taking regular breaks, it can reduce your chances of fatigue.

It gives you the opportunity to reinvigorate your mind and get you ready for the next session of focus.

Actually Accomplish Goals

The reason why so many people swear by this productivity timer is because it offers a realistic and achievable goal. Unlike other techniques out there, the success of this particular method comes down to its simplicity and practicality.

Things You Can Do During the Breaks

Now that you understand how the Pomodoro Method works, maybe you’re wondering how to make good use of the breaks. Here’re 5 things you can do during the breaks:

1. Drink Water

Keeping yourself hydrated is not only one of the most important things you can do for your health, but it can also have a great effect on your focus and concentration. A study conducted by the University of East London in 2013 found that drinking water can increase your productivity by 14%![2]

2. Move Your Body

Use the time between the Pomodoros to get up and move your body.

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Whether it’s simply walking to the bathroom or getting up from your chair and doing a couple of stretches, it’s vital that you take your eyes away from the screen from time to time and keep active throughout the day.

Try these 15 Simple And Quick Office Stretches To Boost Work Efficiency.

3. Go Outside

If you have the opportunity to go outside, then grabbing some fresh air is a great way to spend your breaks. Research has shown that fresh air plays a significant role in maintaining your health as it can reduce the chances of being sick and getting infected.[3]

While this may not work well in the 5-minute breaks, it’s definitely doable in the longer breaks.

4. Do Some Chores

If you’re working or studying at home, then you can spend your time during the productivity timer breaks to complete some quick chores.

Taking out the rubbish, checking the mailbox, or washing the dishes are a few examples of things that enable you to do something productive during your breaks.

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5. Check Your Phone

Because you’ve focused solely on your work during the Pomodoros, the breaks in between are a great opportunity to check your phone or email to see if you’ve received any important messages.

Avoid engaging in social media as it may be tricky to get back into the groove of concentration after break time is up.

The Bottom Line

The Pomodoro Method is the best productivity timer because it encourages you to consistently be productive throughout the day through a practical approach. The goal that it asks you to strive for is something realistic and doable for almost anyone who wants to attempt it.

Being able to shut off distractions and keep yourself focused, whether at work or while studying, is a great skill to possess. Like any other skill, in order to excel at it, you have to practice and develop it, and the Pomodoro Method offers you a good way to do it.

More About Staying Focused

Featured photo credit: Jonah Bedford via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dinnie Muslihat

Writer & content marketer who specializes in keeping people productive.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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