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3 Simple Time Management Techniques: The Pomodoro Technique

Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.”
Carl Sandburg –

Despite the fact that we are all provided with the same amount of time in a day, many of us will still find ourselves saying phrases like “Just where did the time go?” or “There just aren’t enough hours in a day”. While it may feel like time is “slipping through our fingers”, the reality is that the majority of people are incapable of managing their time efficiently. Effective time management is a skill that can be applied to a wide range of situations and is not limited to those working within a business orientated environment. For instance, The Pomodoro technique is often favored by university students due to the simplicity of its application and how it can be modified to suit the individual.

The Pomodoro Technique:

The Pomodoro Technique is perhaps the easiest technique to put into practice. The word “Pomodoro” comes from the Italian for tomato – a reference to the technique’s inventor Francesco Cirillo and the tomato-shaped timer he owned when he was a student.

Entrepreneur and developer Francesco Cirillo first invented the technique in the early 90’s. Since its invention, the aforementioned technique has been utilized by people from all over the globe, from CEO’s and Secretaries, to Professors and the Students that they teach.  The reason behind this is because the technique offers an easy-to-understand methodology. Moreover any improvements are effortlessly noticeable over a short period of time.

Simple Methodology:

When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks; thus training your brain to focus for short periods of time, whilst increasing your attention span and concentration.

In-depth Analysis:

There are 6 principles that must be observed:

  1. Decide on a task that you wish to accomplish.
  2. Take your timer (Pomodoro) and set it to 25 minutes (the traditional timescale). You may wish to alter this time scale to suit you personally e.g. 10 minutes per Pomodoro.
  3. Focus your concentration upon the task at hand, working until the timer rings.
  4. Once the timer has rung, take a pencil and place a mark upon a piece of paper.
  5. Take note of how many marks you have upon your piece of paper. If it is fewer than 4 total marks, take a short break; 3-5 minutes in length. Once you have enjoyed your break, return to step 2.
  6. When you have a total of 4 marks or “pomodoros”, on your piece of paper, take a long break. Usually 20-30 minutes long. Once you have enjoyed your break, return to step 1. Starting a new mark counter upon your piece of paper.

The underlying principles of this technique are straightforward and easily adapted to suit to individual. The Pomodoro Technique’s nature means that it is a never ending cycle, separated into individual indivisible time frames. Which means, that while its applications are endless and simple to implement, complications can occur if this technique is used in an unfavorable environment e.g. one where your attention is constantly divided amongst various tasks. However, these complications can be easily overcome, through a quick analysis of the initial problem, combined with the inherent flexibility that the technique is imbued with. For example, you are being constantly interrupted by colleagues, who require your attention on a multitude of different tasks. It is suggested that you either shorten the length of the work periods (pomodoros), to suit your individual daily routine, or politely ask that your colleagues come back at a later time.  This inherent flexibility allows this technique to become amalgamated with other time management techniques; which we shall cover in our upcoming second installment of, “3 Simple Time Management Techniques”.

Until then, we at The Chat Center would like to wish you a happy and productive day!

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