December 05, 2018

Using the Pomodoro Technique

For the past two weeks, I've been using the Pomodoro Technique to get my work done. And I have to say, I'm surprised by the results. So far it's proven to be an incredibly efficient way to get both my client work and personal responsibilities off the plate.

So what exactly is the Pomodoro Technique?

There's already a ton of information on the internet about the Pomodoro Technique and why it works. For the sake of context, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

There's a ton of science behind the technique that proves its effectiveness. That's all well and good, but for me, the real power doesn't just come from the technique—it comes from the mindset.

The real power doesn't just come from the technique—it comes from the mindset.

The Pomodoro Technique and my creative work flow

I, like many people, have known about this technique for years. I never thought this method would be a viable option for me because of the type of work I do.

Most of my daily work requires large blocks of uninterrupted or creative time. Designing in Sketch, developing in Visual Code Studio, getting the newsletter together, or writing articles for the 45royale blog.

But what I've come to realize in trying this technique is that my perception of the technique was wrong. And so were my objectives. My to-do list always seemed filled with large, insurmountable tasks. I was jotting down the end result, not the dozens of small tasks that need to be done before achieving the end result.

For instance, I would have a task on my to-do list called "Client home page". It's a vague task. There are a ton of things that need to happen until that task can be checked off the list. Research, copy, wireframes, and UX design—all part of the larger sum that is the "Client home page" task.

In my mind, I know these things need to happen. But breaking them out into small, actionable chunks using the Pomodoro Technique makes them easier to handle. It also takes the pressure off of you keeping these looming tasks in the back of your mind. Add them to your list, break them out into 25-minute chunks, move through them. Knowing that you'll have almost a half an hour of uninterrupted focus time makes you surprisingly efficient.

And of course, there's an app for that...

As someone who's on his computer all-day, every-day, in order for this technique to stick it needed to be easy. I looked at a few different apps, and if I'm being honest, there's some room here for disruption. Most of the apps are either expensive, poorly designed, and try to sell you more than you need.

After some searching, I decided to go with Pomotodo. It's simple, lives in your Mac's menu bar (they have a Windows app too), and syncs between devices. It has basic to-do list functionality built in, allowing me to add tasks from anywhere.

It also keeps track of your progress with Statistics, Goals, and History. For me, these aren't super interesting, but some folks like to visualize their headway. I use the free app, but they have a paid service that provide a few "Pro" features. Quite frankly I don't see myself needing these, but hey—to each his/her own.

Interested in your thoughts

As I said, it's taken me a while to come around to the Pomodoro Technique. If you've tried this technique or are interested in giving it a go, I'd love to chat more on Twitter.