In today’s society, so many things are competing for our attention, and it can be difficult to sustain focus on complicated or time-intensive tasks.  Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is not efficient. Do you struggle with distractions, getting started on tasks, or finishing what you do start? The Pomodoro technique is a process designed to improve focus, accuracy, and efficiency while reducing burnout. This technique can be used on larger projects, schoolwork, and household chores.

First, determine a task that needs to be completed. Next, create a distraction-free environment and set a timer for 25 minutes.  Our family uses the analog Time Timer–it’s lightweight, portable, and easy to set, so even the kids can use it on their own. The creator of the technique used a tomato shaped kitchen timer, hence the name “Pomodoro”, which means “tomato” in Italian. In order to eliminate the chance of getting distracted by something else on your phone, a separate timer is recommended, especially one that includes a visual representation of how much time remains. During that 25 minutes, commit to working steadily on that one task without checking email, taking phone calls, getting snacks, or scrolling through your smartphone.

Once the timer goes off, take a five-to-ten-minute break.  Walk away from your work, stretch, and clear your mind.  It’s helpful to set the timer for this break interval, so that you are less likely to get carried away by another task or distraction and lose the flow on your original project.

This routine is repeated through four rounds, meaning you will work for a total of four 25-minute blocks, taking a five-to-ten-minute break after the first three rounds.  If work still remains, take an extended break of about 30 minutes after the fourth pomodoro round, and then repeat the cycle again until the task is completed.  If you end up finishing the task before completing the full pomodoro, use the remaining cycles to review and revise your work or even to begin preparing the next set of tasks for upcoming pomodoro blocks.

If these time blocks seem too short for you, an alternative is to work for 52 minutes straight, followed by a seventeen minute break.  It might sound oddly specific, but sometimes tricking our brains into productivity is as simple as setting a clear start and end time, with breaks scheduled in between.  Try this the next time you have to do house cleaning or work on a detailed personal project, like writing your resume, and see if it makes a difference in your efficiency and productivity!