I am writing this blog post with all distractions turned off…for the next 25 minutes. Email in offline mode, all other browser tabs (except for WordPress) unaccessible, phone in airplane mode, door closed.
I’ve found it’s far more difficult than I expected to focus on one thing for 25 minutes straight, but that’s the basis of the Pomodoro Technique. The idea is very simple – turn off all distractions and focus on just one task for the next 25 minutes. At the end of 25 minutes, you can take a five minute break, then get back into execution mode for another 25 minutes. You either pick another task or complete the first one.
If you pick your tasks right, this is an amazing way to get way more productive. For example, choose a task that’s at the top of your to-do list. It’s there because it’s the most important thing for you to do right now, but it’s also likely something you’ve been procrastinating.
Don’t worry about finishing it, just spend the next 25 minutes focused on it.
Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato” and apparently the originator of this focusing technique had used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to track 25 minutes. There are a wide variety of browser and mobile apps that can do the same for you without needing the original hardware.
Having now used the Pomodoro Technique for the past few weeks, I can honestly claim a few things:
- It’s much harder than I expected
- After 10-15 minutes I definitely want to distract myself
- If I stay disciplined & focused for those 25 minutes, I get WAY more important work done in a much shorter amount of time
Do that same task with distractions and I guarantee it’ll take much longer, and probably be not nearly as good.
Those fire drills, “high importance” emails, Tweets and SnapChats and Instagrams will all be there in 25 minutes. But you’ll also be significantly closer to crossing the most important things off of your to-do list.
Give it a shot…