In operating The Write Hand, LLC, I often find that balancing my client workload and personal tasks gets tedious. As a Virtual Assistant keeping accurate time for clients is imperative because I charge on the least increment of time to save my client’s budget.
For those that have read my blog previously, you will recall my posts about time management as I am still trying to master this. I have previously used the method of Dale Carnegie but somehow I still allow myself to lose focus; or sometimes I even sit way too long and then tire myself out. So I started searching for alternative methods. I learned recently of this Pomodoro Technique and maybe, just maybe I can manage this one. I use a timer to record my per-client work so the technique herein should align well with my existing time methodology. I thought I would share this for your own benefit and maybe even hear back from folks that have successfully used the technique.
Here is the basis of the technique as described by Wikipedia…
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. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.
Closely related to concepts such as timeboxing and iterative and incremental development used in software design, the method has been adopted in pair programming contexts.
- There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
- Decide on the task to be done
- Set the pomodoro timer to 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the timer rings.
- Take a short 3-5 minute break.
- After four pomodori, take a longer break of 15–30 minutes.
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing, and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To-Do Today” list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodori are completed, they are recorded, adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
For the purposes of the technique, “pomodoro” refers to the interval of time spent working. After task completion, any time remaining in the pomodoro is devoted to overlearning. Regular breaks are taken, aiding assimilation. A short 3–5 minute rest separates consecutive pomodori. Four pomodori form a set. A longer 15–30 minute rest is taken between sets.
An essential aim of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. A pomodoro is indivisible. When interrupted during a pomodoro either the other activity must be recorded and postponed or the pomodoro must be abandoned.