We’re three weeks into the year and I’ve already made more money than I did in January and February 2015 combined — thanks to The Pomodoro Technique.
Better yet, I’ve produced more in less time.
Last year I worked a ridiculous amount of hours. I wrote about this in the first article of 2016.
Although, I did get a lot done, there were times when I felt like the work being produced didn’t match the time invested.
Have you ever felt this way? It’s incredibly frustrating.
To make matters worse, my income didn’t reflect the time I was investing.
Then I read about a productivity strategy called The Pomodoro Technique.
Basically, the idea is to work in sprints with short, but frequent, breaks in between each sprint.
Then it dawned on me that some of my most productive days in college and the start of my career were when I would set strict schedules for myself that always included times for short distractions.
I already knew instinctively this technique would work, but never drew the conclusion logically.
What is The Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity method invented by Francesco Cirilio that’s designed to help you get more done in less time.
It falls into the category of work smart, not hard — but not in the typical “life hack” sort of way that caters to lazy people.
The most simple methods are often the most effective.
The idea is to pick one task and focus 100% of your effort on that task, with no distractions, for 25 minutes — followed by a short break.
The Pomodoro Technique:
- Choose one task to work on — Our minds can only focus on so much at once. Pick only one task to focus on at a time.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes — There are plenty of apps available to do this for you, which I’ll share in this article. You can choose any time interval, but 25 minutes is what works best for most people.
- Work obsessively with no distractions — This isn’t half-assed working, it’s 100% focused work. No distractions, no breaks, and no excuses.
- Take a 5 minute break — After the timer sounds and one Pomodoro is complete, you can do whatever you want for 5 minutes. Once the break is over, you repeat steps 1-4.
- Take a long break after 4 Pomodoros — Once you’ve completed 4 Pomodoros in a row, you can take a longer break. The standard is 15 minutes, but I often skip all the short breaks and take a 25 minute long break.
Easy enough, right?
How does The Pomodoro Technique work?
The Pomodoro Technique was carefully designed to leverage psychological triggers that make us more productive.
Although it’s deceptively simple, there was actually a lot of thought put into The Pomodoro Technique.
You can read the original eBook on The Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirillo, to dive into the details behind it.
Cirillo’s goals for The Pomodoro Technique are:
- Alleviate productivity-related anxiety
- Enhance focus and concentration by cutting down on interruptions
- Increase awareness of your decisions
- Boost motivation and keep it constant
- Bolster the determination to achieve your goals
- Refine the estimation process, both in qualitative and quantitative terms
- Improve your work or study process
- Strengthen your determination to keep on applying yourself in the face of complex situations
Benefits of The Pomodoro Technique
Thousands of people have benefited from this simple method and you could too.
#1. Time works for you, not against you.
There are only 24 hours in a day. When you have a lot on your to-do list it seems like there’s never enough time in the day.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked day and night, wishing for more time in the day.
When I started to view time in smaller chunks (Pomodoros), instead of hours, I realized we have more than enough time in the day.
My mindset changed once I realized how much could be accomplished in a short, but insanely focused, amount of time.
#2. Eliminate burnout.
The risk of burnout is a byproduct of obsessive work. Our bodies and minds have to rest and recover if we are going to keep pushing them harder.
The Pomodoro Technique incorporates small breaks to keep your mind fresh and intentionally allow time for temporary distraction.
However, I often skip most breaks and still avoid burnout. But I’ll explain that in #4.
#3. Avoid distractions.
During the Pomodoro you are to be strictly focused on the task at hand. There are no breaks or distractions allowed.
Many of the apps will allow you to pause the Pomodoro timer, but there is no such thing as pausing a true Pomodoro.
If you stop to check Twitter — the Pomodoro is invalid.
If you answer an important phone call for only a few minutes — the Pomodoro is invalid.
No exceptions and no excuses.
Check twitter and return calls on your breaks or, like I do, save them until you’re done — which won’t take as long as usual.
#4. Improve your work/life balance.
I’m not a big believer in the work/life balance. I enjoy my life being centered around my work.
However, most people don’t feel that way and, like anyone, I love having extra time to play with.
Since using The Pomodoro Technique, I’ve finished my work much earlier in the day — between 4-6 instead of the usual 7-10.
This has given me more time to read. Now I’m going through a book a week, easily.
I’ve also got more time to run errands, do projects around the house, and plot world domination.
What’s even better is I’m getting more work done in less time.
How I doubled my productivity and tripled my income
Once I started testing The Pomodoro Technique at the end of 2015, I quickly realized I was going to benefit from it and that others probably would too.
However, between traveling for the holidays and businesses winding down for the year, I didn’t have enough on my agenda to fully test it.
About a week into the year, things were rolling again and I started doing The Pomodoro Technique every day.
Almost immediately I was producing more work in less time or double the work in the same amount of time — whichever I decide.
Naturally, I started taking on more work from clients and my income grew.
But I saw a big jump in my income when I decided to increase my rates 150%.
My increased productivity and higher rates have allowed me to get more work done, in less time, while making more money!
Although I do attribute much of my success to The Pomodoro Technique, it’s not the sole reason my productivity and income have increased.
Here are a few other things I’ve been doing:
- After finishing my work each day, I clean my office and leave my desk free of clutter or lose papers. I’ve found this keeps my mind clear and focused when I start working each morning.
- I’ve landed higher-quality (and higher-paying) clients who are more enjoyable to work with, for the most part.
- As I’ve done in the past, I have one playlist that I listen to on repeat all day while working, every day. This helps me get in the zone quickly.
With the extra time on my hands, I’ve been quietly working on a special project in the background that you’ll learn more about soon.
I’ve also made a few updates to the blog’s appearance, which you might have noticed.
How to get started with The Pomodoro Technique
To get started you simply need a timer and the desire to kick ass.
What if I’m not feeling motivated for all-out work?
To get the full benefit, you really have to put forth a maximum effort during each Pomodoro.
It’s normal to not feel like working from time to time, but you have to develop the discipline to work when you don’t feel like it if you want to succeed.
You’ll find that getting started is all you need. Once you get started, the motivation will follow. You can’t sit around waiting on motivation to come to you.
The Best Pomodoro Technique Tools and Apps
There are tons of apps and timers that help you track your Pomodoros.
I use an app, but you can use a physical timer if you prefer. Here are a couple I found on Amazon:
Web/Desktop Pomodoro Timers
The best free app I found is PomoDone App.
It’s easy to set up and start using, but it does require you to signup with your email address.
You can sync PomoDone with other productivity tools, such as Trello, Basecamp, Todois, Wunderlist, and more. After you’ve synced your apps, PomoDone will import all of your tasks from those apps and you can create new tasks when you start a new Pomodoro.
If you’re looking for a simple web-based timer that’s free and doesn’t require you to signup, check out Marinara Timer.
Marinara Timer is simple, but it gets the job done. Also, they give you shareable URLs for your timer, so you can share with others in your team and do joint Pomodoros.
Pomodoro Timer Apps
The best-looking Pomodoro app is Pomodoro Keeper.
Pomodoro Keeper is free with limited functionality or $1.99 for the ability to customize your settings and see reports beyond 30 days.
I liked this app a lot and it looks great, but I decided to stick with the next app as my go-to Pomodoro timer because it has better reporting features and allows you to manage tasks.
I’m a nerd and like to analyze the data — otherwise, I would say go with Pomodoro Keeper.
The app I ended up liking the best and currently use is Pomodoro Time.
They have a free version with ads and a pro version for $1.99 that disables ads and allows you to export reports.
It also works on Mac and iWatch, but I just use it on my phone.
I love the ability to manage tasks because I can use this as a to-do list and Pomodoro timer. Also, it helps me keep track of how much time I’ve put into bigger projects over time.
Unlike the other apps, Pomodoro Time lets you change the settings in their free version.
I don’t own an Android device anymore, so I can’t recommend an app to Android users from my personal experience. However, I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that meets your needs.
Anyone interested in getting more work done in less time should test The Pomodoro Technique firsthand.
It’s certainly been a useful method for me and thousands of other people.
They say life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. I perform better when I approach things as a series of sprints, instead of a marathon. Perhaps you are similar.
If you’ve already tried out The Pomodoro Technique, let me know what you think. I’m curious to see how it’s worked for you.
Also, if you are using any other productivity tactic you think is better, the rest of us want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments.
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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