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How the Pomodoro Technique can change your life!

June, 2020

With months of lockdown and working from home, a lot of us have had spells of dwelling on our negative thoughts, being unproductive and feeling like a burden on planet Earth. Alright, maybe not the last one, but you know what I mean!
We all have rainy days and while it is completely normal to go through them, it is equally important to focus on ‘growing’ through them.
We often come across multiple methods to increase focus and be more productive in our day to day lives. Well, there is an age-old technique which is easy to adopt, simple to practice and rewarding to make a routine out of.

The Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro, in Italian, means tomato. While a rather unusual term for a technique, it makes sense when you realise that Francesco Cirillo who invented the technique in the 1980s literally named it on the tomato shaped timer, he used to practice this with.
The technique essentially is as basic as it could get. Define a task, focus on the task with a 25-minute timer, take a 5-minute break, get back to the same or next task for the next 25 mins. After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break.
Sounds simple enough, but like most things in life, simple does not mean easy… It takes time and practice to harvest the “fruits” of your labour. (Yes, tomato is technically a fruit)

Not just a Nifty Trick
When most of us hear about such time management hacks, we usually think of using this with just our work or study. But this technique goes beyond that.
We all struggle with procrastination with some task or the other and the hardest part is not to do the task, but to get yourself to do the task. This is true for assignments and studying, but also for cleaning, organizing, reading, learning a new skill or anything categorized in our brains as a “task.”
Even though there a bunch of apps and devices that are used across the world for productivity hacks, it’s often better to go back to our traditional methods.
People who use the technique, also encourage others to keep the experience low tech by using a mechanical winding timer and checking items on a paper list. As if you need another reason to stay off the phone!

However, there is also a scientific basis for that:

  • The physical act of winding the timer confirms the user's determination to start the task
  • Ticking externalises desire to complete the task
  • Ringing announces a break.

Flow and focus become associated with these physical stimuli. So, it goes beyond just some suggestion as it hacks our human psychology to make us more effective.

The step by step guide
I’m sure by now you must be dying to know how you can apply this in your daily schedule!

There are six steps in the original technique:

  • Decide on the task to be done
  • Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes, but can be defined as per need)
  • Work on the task
  • End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper
  • If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2
  • After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go back to step 1

It will take a lot of practice to get it right and maintain the timings given all the distractions out there and our shortening attention spans. But if you pull through this:

  • You become more productive
  • You can focus for much longer much better
  • You get more satisfaction from accomplishing your tasks
  • Tasks end up actually taking you half the time due to the improved focus
  • You finally get to the tasks you never got around to for months, even years!

So, what are you waiting for?
Go conquer the world, one tomato at a time!

  • Written By Richa Agarwal

Richa, who joined the firm as an intern in 2015, is now the Managing Partner at TSB. She loves to learn new things, ensures everything is in order and brings a new energy to the firm. Apart from work, she is passionate about dance having competed in over 15 national competitions!