Pomodoro isn’t just a tomato

A laser-focused approach to work can help you become more efficient

Before my middle schooler went back to school in person this year, the school district asked teachers to conduct virtual classes using the Pomodoro method. This meant each class was only 25 minutes of targeted learning followed by a five-minute break.

At first, I thought it was a ridiculous concept and one in which children would learn next to nothing. I was wrong, and I decided to learn more about why the Pomodoro method works and how it can be applied to my workday.

Adherents to the technique work on tasks for a set period of time without interruption (which means silencing emails, phone ringers and texts) followed by a five- to 10-minute break. The Pomodoro method is said to be able to combat distraction, procrastination and inefficiency. It is best used for one to three hours per day.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Arianne Cohen recently wrote a series of articles regarding the Pomodoro method and provides six ways to get the most benefit from it:

  • Pick your task. Pomodoro works best for tasks you don’t particularly want to do or work you’ve been putting off.
  • Choose an interval. Although the method suggests 25 minutes on and five minutes off, you can spend 50 or 90 minutes on with 30 minutes off. Time-management strategist Kelly Nolan told Bloomberg Businessweek she considers 50 minutes as the time block that correlates with the most productivity.
  • Choose a time. The hours when you are the most alert will obviously benefit you the most.
  • Scale up. On your first day, Cohen says try one to two hours. If you have success in that time frame, you could increase to about four hours for a few days.
  • Take active breaks. Physical activity can help keep your mental energy at a high level. You can take a quick walk, do some stretching exercises or climb stairs in your building.
  • Set a timer. Whatever time you commit to, set a timer on something that is not your phone. A phone timer makes distractions too tempting. A simple kitchen timer will do the trick.

These past 12 months have been awful in many ways. But the year did allow me to learn new things and expand my ways of thinking, and trying the Pomodoro method has been something that has changed my workday for the better. Perhaps you want to give it a shot, too?

Ambika Puniani Reid is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA’s vice president of communications.


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