A couple of days ago I learned what has to be the wackiest, simplest and surprisingly really effective time management process called the pomodoro method.
Now, before you freak out and run away thinking that I’m going to talk about some new $30 – 300 page time management book, let me assure you of two things…
(1) I will show you how you can get everything you need to apply the pomodoro method absolutely free in this Blog post.
(2) You will not have to read a 300 page book to learn this process. You won’t even have to read a 50 page book. You can learn this process in a matter of minutes.
Where Does the pomodoro method Originate?
the pomodoro method was created by Francesco Cirillo – an entrepreneur, innovator in process-improvement techniques, author, coach and mentor.
Francesco originally created the pomodoro method in the 1980′s while attending University in Rome. Finding it difficult to stay on task and concentrate on his studies he began utilizing a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato to challenge his concentration skills.
That tomato shaped kitchen timer is where the technique gets it’s name – pomodoro being tomato in Italian.
What is the pomodoro method
In it’s simplest form, the pomodoro method is a simple – yet effective time management technique that helps you get stuff done.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1- You decide to work on a specific task.
Step 2 – You start a 25 minute timer.
Step 3 – For 25 minutes straight you concentrate and work on that single, specific task, uninterrupted.
Step 4 – At the 25 minute mark, the timer goes off and you stop working on that task.
Step 5 – You now take a minimum 5 minute break. You have now completed “one pomodoro”.
Step 6 – You either start another pomodoro for the same task, or you work on something else.
What’s So Revolutionary About That?!
I know what you’re thinking – “What’s so revolutionary about splitting your tasks into 25 minute chunks?”
Well, here’s the truth… there is nothing revolutionary about this method. It’s dead simple, and it almost sounds too easy to produce any kind of results.
But here’s the thing. I’ve been playing with this thing for the last few days and I can’t believe how much more productive I’ve been!
It’s like this thing turns you into productivity Ninja or something!
My Experience With the pomodoro method So Far
Thirty seconds left on my pomodoro timer as I’m writing this sentence, so I have to take my break now.
Be right back.
(5 mins later)
Alrighty, I’m back for another Blog writing pomodoro.
So, for the last few days I’ve been testing this thing out. Essentially what I do is I pick a project to work on, I turn off ALL distractions like email or MSN messenger or Facebook or Twitter or anything like that and I set a timer for 25 minutes and I start working.
I use a desktop timer which I’ll talk about in a few minutes which sits on my computer desktop and counts down from 25 minutes so at any point in time I can glance over and see how many minutes are left.
So I set my timer and I concentrate on doing just that one single project for the entire 25 minutes.
See, that’s one of the “rules” of the pomodoro method – you must complete a full 25 minute session in order for it to be considered a completed “pomodoro”.
Yesterday I helped my wife clean our deck outside, sweeping and vacuuming up some leaves and cleaning the BBQ – 2 pomodoros.
Today I worked on a new Blog I’m building – 3 pomodoros.
Then I watched some Frank Kern Internet marketing videos – 1 pomodoro.
I also gave my dog Kobe a brushing to get rid of his winter undercoat – 1 pomodoro.
Now I’m back to working on my Blog, writing this Blog post and publishing it. By the time it’s done I would imagine it will be 3 pomodoros.
Now, what is it exactly about this simple process that makes it so effective?
Well, so far I have noticed the following…
First of all, I am notoriously easily distracted so when I have my email, Twitter, Facebook, MSN, cell phone and the Interwebz at my fingertips I find it really difficult to work on one single thing for more than a few minutes.
I’ll start working on a Blog post and then I’ll see a Twitter message pop up – five seconds later I’m watching a video on YouTube of some guy doing something ridiculously stupid involving him, a skateboard, a metal beam, and his inability to have children after that “accident”. Meanwhile, his friends are laughing. Why do I click on such things!?
Anyway, it’ll either be that or some email will come in offering me a chance to get 50% off something super awesome if I just sign up for it right this second. How can I not click the link? It’s just so tempting!
Well, things are different now. Now I’ve got my pomodoro timer and it’s my gatekeeper.
When the timer is running, I’m focused.
If someone wants my attention – they can talk to the hand… at least for another 10 minutes and 36 seconds.
That’s the beauty of this system, the time intervals are perfect! I don’t know why, but 25 minutes is the perfect time interval. He explains it in the eBook (I’ll show you how to get it free in a minute), but I was too excited to try it out to read the book in that much detail.
A 25 minute interval means that if you get interrupted by something “urgent” half-way through, like a phone call or someone wanting something from you – you can just tell them you’ll call them back in 12 minutes. Unless it’s a real emergency like your kid choking on something, people can wait 12 minutes.
An email can wait 12 minutes.
An MSN message can wait 12 minutes.
A phone call can be returned in 12 minutes.
Do you see what I mean?
The other thing that I’ve really noticed since following the pomodoro method is that it is INCREDIBLE as to how much you can accomplish in 25 minutes if you just focus and only work on one thing at a time.
I mean WOW… it’s really crazy.
Try it out, you’ll see what I mean.
Tools for the pomodoro method
There is a very cool, and free tool I downloaded for the pomodoro method called the “Focus Booster”.
Here’s what it looks like…
Essentially, it’s just a very simple 25 minute timer. You click “Play” and it starts counting down from 25 minutes down to zero. When it reaches zero, the buzzer goes off and your 5 minute break starts.
Then, if you want to start another 25 minute session, you just click play again.
You can dowload the Focus Booster for free here.
It works on both PC and Mac.
Since I spend a lot of my time working on projects on my computer, I find this tool very useful. It minimizes into a smaller sized bar as well if you want. You can even make it “tick” if you like.
When I’m not working on my PC, I also use the count down timer on my iPhone to do the same thing.
Ohp, break time!
Alrighty, back for another 25 minute stretch.
Where was I? Right, iPhone countdown timer. You can use any kind of timer, but since I’m almost always either at my computer or I have my iPhone near me, the Focus Booster app and my iPhone countdown timer is all I need.
If you visit the pomodoro method official website you will see that he also sells the authentic tomato shaped kitchen timers, but those are way too analog for me.
Where to Get the pomodoro method eBook for Free
As promised, if you want to learn about the pomodoro method, I will show you how you can get access to the eBook version for free – no opt-in or anything like that required.
You have to do is click on this link here…
And then scroll down until you see the “Download the Book Free in PDF” section and download it for free.
You can also get the “Cheat Sheet”, “To Do Today Worksheet” and “Activity Inventory Worksheets” for free as well.
The eBook explains how to use all of those.
Test Out the pomodoro method
I don’t recommend trying to use the pomodoro method for everything. In fact, Francesco talks about that in his book as well.
Life isn’t about being super productive 100% of the time.
When it’s time to be fun, spontaneous or relaxed – don’t bother with this technique.
However, if you have a project or a set of projects that you’ve been meaning to put some time and energy into – why not try out the pomodoro method on those projects?
That’s what I did. I picked a couple of projects that I have been meaning to work on and I turned on the timer and tested the system out.
As I mentioned before, I was actually really surprised as to how productive I was during those short 25-minute intervals.
I think there is a whole world of effectiveness bundled into this little technique.
It takes advantage of Parkinson’s Law – which basically states that tasks will generally stretch to take up the amount of time that you allocate to them. By keeping the time frames short – just 25 minutes long – you become more efficient at getting things done faster.
Instead of my mind thinking “I need to finish this Blog post” it thinks “I need to finish this Blog post in the next 4 minutes”.
You’d think that this might create a lot of pressure and potential anxiety when doing things, but it actually does the opposite.
Try it out, you’ll see what I mean!