The Pomodoro Technique

I’m completing my first week of using the Pomodoro Technique for organization. A former student posted this website on FB, since she was looking for a way to manage all her graduate studies and teaching. I checked it out……

Now I’ve been into reading organization information for many years (decades) now, especially since I am always looking for ways to help students with homework and assorted assignments. Most “techniques” I find are too gimmicky – you spend more time worrying about what the stages are and if you’ve done it correctly, rather than letting it help you actually do the work. Remember SQ3R? Most of us don’t (Study, question, read, (w)rite, review….I think). I realized it was a problem when one student said, so which R comes next? That’s not a good tool to use.

But people make money pushing these techniques, and Pomodoro has tools to use that you can purchase. You don’t need to, although I did get a simple kitchen timer from the dollar store. They’re right, I did like the ticking telling me I was working…..

Basic technique: you break up tasks into 25 minute blocks. It’s that simple. Now why 25? That seems to be a good working estimate of time to stay focused and get stuff accomplished. You get a short 5-6 minute break after this session. Sounds very reasonable, and I like the fact that this technique is taking brain research into account. Years ago at a professional development workshop, the presenter suggested setting “odd” numbers of amount of time to work on something. Rather than 15 or 30 minutes, which are so familiar we kind of blow them off, he suggested saying things like 13 minutes or 4 minutes. These are different, and our ears perk up at the mention of an unusual number, and consequently it seems to give the task more urgency.

I think that’s what happens with the Pomodoro block of 25 minutes. It’s different, and we know we get a break at the end of it. There is a way to organize yourself by setting your to-do list by the urgency of the task and the number of Pomodoros you think it will take to accomplish that task. On Monday this week I made my master list for the week, and it included some reminders for things for the next week, also. I starred what was critical, and then I started making the Monday list. Same for Tuesday through Friday. In fact, doing this blog post right now is its own Pomodoro (two Pomodoros for longer, more involved posts with pictures).

I got stuff done I didn’t think I would for the week. I can track where I spent my time, and as artists, this could be very valuable in determining how much time it actually took to complete a piece. Save your sheets and revel in just how much you got accomplished. Now I didn’t get obsessive with the short breaks and the longer breaks, but I have a much better feel for how I mcan maximize my time, especially my sewing time. It seems like the tasks or to-do list just just slip away from me. I have a very definite sense of accomplishment for the day, and ultimately for the week. It might be worth a perusal to see if you like it.

If you try it, let me know. I’m always curious as to organization systems that people use. Drop me a note!

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