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Is the Pomodoro Technique For You?

Is time management a problem in your freelance writing career? If you answer “yes”, maybe you have heard the Pomodoro Technique.

The first time I heard of this was in November 2013 while working for a client. My client asked me to learn this time management system and apply it while doing the tasks for him. So he sent me some materials to read and off I started.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a revolutionary time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo during the late ‘80s. It uses a timer to break down tasks into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks. Each interval is called a “pomodoro”, an Italian word for tomato, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he first used.

Why the Pomodoro Technique?

As a student, Cirillo had challenges focusing on his studies. Using a pen, paper, and kitchen timer, he devised a method of monitoring the time he spent studying.

Many people think of time as an enemy. The need to beat the deadline, the need to arrive early for an appointment, and the need to finish tasks at the end of the day are just a few examples of how people envision time as an enemy.

However, with the Pomodoro Technique, you will learn to work with time instead of struggling against it.

How It Works

This method uses three things: a pen, some paper, and a timer.

Before starting, write down one Pomodoro cycle on paper like this:

  • First block [25 mins]
  • First break [5 mins]
  • Second block [25 mins]
  • Second break [5 mins]
  • Third block [25 mins]
  • Third break [5 mins]
  • Fourth block [25 mins]
  • Long break [15 to 30 mins]

Take a task that requires your full, undivided attention and that you’d like to get done. Set the timer for 25 minutes and start working on the task until the time’s up.

If you suddenly think of doing another task or another thought comes into mind, write that distraction down on paper and continue with the task at hand.

When the timer rings, mark the first block done. Take a 5-minute break then repeat the process four times. However, on your fourth break, take a long one, around 15 to 30 minutes.

This method encourages you to focus on one task and eliminate distractions. It also allows you to use the first few minutes of each Pomodoro to review what you’ve done in the previous interval. Also, the method discourages you to start the next step without finishing the task at hand.

With the Pomodoro Technique, you can measure the amount of time you spend on tasks in terms of Pomodoro units. If one Pomodoro cycle is equivalent to two hours, then you’ll have around four Pomodoro cycles or sixteen blocks of 25-minute work to get things done in an 8-hour work day.

“Time management is surely the most critical aspect of acing multiple arenas: home, work, and family.”

— Sonali Bendre

Is the Pomodoro Technique for You?

The Pomodoro Technique can be learned with time and practice. Proponents say that the technique works in the creative writing process.

Based on my experience, Pomodoro Technique works best whenever I’m faced with a daunting (or long, boring) writing task. Once I write down the Pomodoro cycle on paper, I’m forced to follow it.

However, I don’t use the Pomodoro Technique when I’m writing a novel. Whenever I’m in the zone, I forget to take note of the time, thus the steps I’ve mentioned earlier become distractions.

Also, I admit I misused the Pomodoro Technique at some time. The first and second intervals were successful, but I prolonged the third and fourth breaks. At first, it was fine, a few added minutes would not hurt. Then I realized that I’d be having longer breaks than I should.

My Thoughts

The Pomodoro Technique should be practiced with discipline. It isn’t for everyone and doesn’t work on other creative tasks.

Another thing, if the day is filled with meetings, travel or commute, or other time-consuming activities mostly away from the desk, the Pomodoro Technique wouldn’t work.

Let me know if you have used the Pomodoro Technique and tell me what you think. Let me know, too, if I have missed anything. I’d appreciate your feedback. And if you like to read more about freelance writing, productivity, or creative writing, please subscribe and join the tribe.

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