Can a lowly tomato really make you more productive?
Technically, no, a tomato is not likely to make you more productive. However, there is a productivity technique named for a tomato-shaped kitchen timer called a pomodoro that could have you whizzing through work like a speed demon.
If you've got one procrastinating bone in your body, you know sometimes it’s hard to get started on big projects or tasks that you don’t like to do. The reasons can vary— the immensity of the task is overwhelming, you never have uninterrupted time blocks of time to dedicate or you're avoiding a task that you don’t like to do. Whatever the reason, pomodoros can help.
Here’s how it works
A pomodoro is a 25-minute period of dedicated work concentrating on a single task. To start the pomodoro, set a timer for 25 minutes and work exclusively on that task. You can use the timer function on your phone or set an alarm on your computer. During this time take no calls, don't check emails or texts and don't take breaks -- allow no distractions to interrupt your focus. When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break and if time allows, come back after the break and do another pomodoro. Repeat the cycle for up to four times. After you have completed four pomodoros with the 5-minute breaks in between, you can take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
The benefits of the pomodoros include:
- You can focus for 25 minutes even if you don’t like the task.
- When progress is made, even in small increments, you'll tend to feel more satisfied and positive about the project thus increasing motivation to complete the project.
- The small “in-between” periods of time between meetings or phone calls can be put to productive use if you get in the habit of doing pomodoros during those gaps.
- For those who tend to attack projects with gusto during marathon stretches of work, forcing yourself to take breaks can actually result in increased productivity by forcing you to refresh and avoid the burn out. Even if the marathon sessions have worked for you, they may be counterproductive as you may find yourself avoiding getting started because you know there will be no respite.
- Shutting out distractions allows you to be very productive. Even the most important phone call or email can usually wait 25 minutes until your break.
The pomodoro technique addresses so many of the root issues of lack of productivity. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!