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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity?

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Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity?

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management systems used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference, but if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Method is a time management technique that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster and 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 five-minute break.

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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 pomodoro timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoro” work sessions have passed (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of short breaks), you then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes[1].

The Pomodoro Technique – Why It Works & How To Do It

    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 the Pomodoro Technique Boosts Your Productivity

    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.”[2]

    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.

    More Benefits of the Pomodoro Method

    1. Set Time for Distractions

    Throughout our work days, we often get distracted every few minutes. This usually happens because we don’t plan in time for breaks when we would actually be allowed to get distracted. The Pomodoro Technique allows breaks throughout your day, so you know when you’ll get to disconnect and be distracted with something else for a moment.

    2. Limits Open-Ended Work

    Open-ended work like studying, research, or even writing can drag on for hours if you’re not careful. By fitting these kinds of activities into pomodoros, you put a time limit on them, which will help you “complete” them in a certain amount of time and break down work into manageable chunks.

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    3. Turns Work Into a Game

    If you’re a fan of games, the Pomodoro Method can be a lot of fun for you. The timer acts as a countdown for the task at hand, and you’ll feel like you’re working against the clock, trying to “finish a level” or “win the game.” Gamifying important tasks can really help boost your productivity as it offers entertainment, breaking up boring moments with a challenge.

    4. Helps You Move Away From Procrastination

    For those who struggle with procrastination, the Pomodoro Method can keep you motivated. With this technique, you know when and how long you have to work, so you don’t have to talk yourself into working as it’s already laid out for you.

    If you tend to struggle with procrastination, you can also check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination

    Downsides of the Pomodoro Technique

    Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[3]

    “Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

    Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[4]

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    “Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticking on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

    Final Thoughts

    One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want, or you can use a custom timer, or any timer program on your computer or phone. Even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

    The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work, but if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Todoist: The Pomodoro Technique
    [2] Francesco Cirillo: The Pomodoro Technique
    [3] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
    [4] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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    Published on September 21, 2021

    How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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    How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

    The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

    In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

    1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

    Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

    But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

    Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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    Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

    Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

    While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

    Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

    2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

    At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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    Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

    Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

    Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

    McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

    From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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    3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

    An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

    McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

    Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

    Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

    Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

    So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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    The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

    If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

    Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

    Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

    Reference

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