The Pomodoro Technique: My Method For Working From Home
The beauty of being a freelance web designer is I can scale up or scale down – normally dependant on my health and surroundings. If I only currently have the bandwidth to only work with one client then there is the option to upscale at the end of the month. But, how do I sort out my time and schedule during the week? Whilst I do not have all of the answers, I thought I would tell you a few things I have picked up. This involves The Pomodoro Technique.
If you want to manage your time better, it takes a little stamina at first.
You should try out different methods and practice each one consistently over several weeks. But, I will be writing about the method that I use in this Blog post.
Some methods will initially create extra work, but will ultimately speed up your workflows dramatically. A time management method has to become a habit before you can really judge whether it works for you.
Often, a combination of several methods will be most effective. The process of trying out different techniques can be a little tedious, but it usually proves to be worthwhile.
Mastering time management will benefit you in several ways:
- Greater productivity
- Less stress
- More time for yourself, family, and friends
- Better work-life balance
My Go-To Time Management Technique – The Pomodora Technique
Taken from the Italian word for “tomato” – and so named because of the tomato-shaped kitchen timer used by its Italian developer, Francesco Cirillo – the Pomodoro technique breaks down tasks into small, manageable subtasks. You complete these tasks in 25-minute intervals rather than committing yourself to working through one task in its entirety before moving on to anything else. You take a 5-minute break after every 25-minute interval (pomodoro). After four pomodoros, you take a longer 30-minute break. Now you’ve completed a full pomodoro session.
By continuously alternating between concentration and rest, your brain is much more able to stay focused and effective over several hours.
The Advantages Of The Pomodoro Technique
The fact that the Pomodoro technique has gained more and more followers in recent years is certainly due to its simplicity. All you need is an alarm clock or a watch, and you’re good to go. In an increasingly complex world, we can appreciate every simple solution.
But the more important reason for its popularity is probably the change in the way we work: We are increasingly exposed to internal and external distractions, and it’s therefore increasingly difficult for us to concentrate on a single thing for long periods of time. It’s not possible to establish an undisturbed working process – but that’s exactly what is needed for good results to be achieved efficiently. And it’s precisely in this respect that the Pomodoro method promises to help.
But that’s not all. In many ways, it can have a positive effect on your own everyday work:
- Greater self-discipline: People who regularly use the Pomodoro technique train their ability to concentrate and control impulses. This is an important prerequisite for productive working.
- Better results: The probability of finding innovative or good solutions increases enormously if we concentrate on one thing over a longer period of time.
- Longer performance curve: Sensibly alternating between concentration and relaxation keeps mental performance high. The brain can recover in the meantime and as a result, we are able to work productively for many hours at a time.
- More leisure time: As productivity increases due to single-tasking – i.e. the successive and focused processing of tasks – people can complete their work sooner. Ideally, they can also finish work earlier and enjoy more leisure time. If this is not possible for operational reasons, then they at least create room to manoeuvre because they create additional time for other urgent tasks.
- Objective evaluation: By recording the number of Pomodori completed in each working day, we get a good overview of our productivity. Depending on how detailed we keep the statistics, we also gain an insight into activities that are easy for us to perform and circumstances that increase or decrease our productivity. This is all information that we can use to shape our working day, so as to achieve better results.
Another reason why the time management technique is so popular: Due to the division into 25-minute work blocks, the entry hurdle is low. With little effort, even the biggest social media addicts can usually manage not to be distracted for 25 minutes.
The Disadvantages Of The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique has no real disadvantages. Nevertheless, it does pose a challenge: You must learn to assess how much work you can do in 25 minutes, and structure your work so that the timer does not ring just when you are in the middle of a task. Otherwise, the Pomodoro technique would disturb your workflow and achieve exactly the opposite from what it is supposed to.
It makes sense to bundle small tasks together – for example, to reserve a Pomodoro exclusively for replying to several e-mails. Larger tasks, on the other hand, can usually be subdivided into subtasks. Examples of this would be evaluating certain key figures for a comprehensive monthly report, writing a single paragraph for this report or reading a technical article as a part of the research involved.
What Tools Do I Need For The Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro technique does not require any special tools. All you need is a device that will remind you to take a break after 25 minutes.
Devices you can use to measure Pomodoro time:
- With a kitchen timer (like the original)
- With a smartphone (every smartphone includes a timer function as standard)
- With an alarm clock (manually set the alarm time to 25 minutes)
- With an hourglass (there are special Pomodoro hourglasses that time 25 minutes and even have a decorative appearance)
Those who prefer digital solutions can choose from a range of Pomodoro apps and Pomodoro software. Since these tools really can motivate you to try out the new technology, it’s worth testing some of them and investing a few pounds if necessary. However, many of the Pomodoro apps are also free to use.
- Tomato Timer (web)
- Tomato.es (Web – with statistics and a feature that allows you to see how many Pomodori you have completed, compared with other users/colleagues)
- Pomodoro Timer Software (download software, free of charge)
- Focus To-Do (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS – combines Pomodoro with task management)
- Pomotodo (Web, Mac, Android, iOS – combines Pomodoro technique with Getting Things Done)
- Engross (Android – combines Pomodoro and task management, users can find out at which times they are most productive)
Who Does The The Pomodoro Technique Benefit?
The Pomodoro method is based on short, manageable work blocks and a strict system of work intervals and breaks. Critics find this system too inflexible and, particularly when it comes to larger tasks, they see it rather as an obstacle.
For example, if you are writing a fairly long text, you might have just gotten into your writing flow when the 25 minutes are up. According to the Pomodoro technique, you would have to take a break. However, this can interrupt the creative thought process and have a counterproductive effect. In these cases, it may be useful to experiment with longer intervals, for example 50 minutes.
Also, not everyone manages to keep enough time free to actually finish four Pomodori in a row. For example, if you want to work undisturbed on a project for only about an hour after your other colleagues have gone home, you will only be doing half a Pomodoro session and, strictly speaking, are no longer following the Pomodoro principle.
Others criticise that the limited time and the ticking timer create additional stress factors. Instead of working in a more concentrated way, some people might be tempted to glance at the hourglass or the app more often. In this case, the Pomodoro technique itself creates a permanent distraction.
While the Pomodoro method can increase productivity and help overcome distractions and multitasking, it does not work for everyone or in every context.
Always, there is the need for a Plan-B. There may be a time your power goes down or the gas goes off. You will need to find a coffee shop or a co-working space that is receptive to your needs. When you work from home, the internet is not just for Netflix. Balance time with your loved ones and don’t open a an of Pomodoro on an evening. Take time off work!