A couple of months ago I mentioned that I read The Pomodoro Technique but I was yet to properly try it out! A few weeks ago I started trialling using a timer when I write each morning. Every morning I aim to do at least 20mins of focused writing. I think setting the timer has definitely helped me with retaining focus and eliminating distractions.
The Pomodoro Technique is quite an easy method to follow here is a simple video that explains how to do it!
Here are some great benefits to using this method:
– Improves creative focus and flow.
– Encourages taking breaks which is much healthier for your brain and body.
– Helps to minimise all distractions! Distractions can be a major detriment to your work day. Particularly if you work from home because there is always the thought that you can ‘make-up’ that time later. But really you want to get your work done as quickly as you can so that you can then feel a sense of accomplishment and create better work-life balance!
– Encourages you to break down bigger tasks into smaller tasks.
– Helps with work task timing and overall planning of time.
Every day you want to start your day with a basic list of tasks that you which to complete in one day. You could either write this the night before or in the morning. If you do it in the morning you could have ‘planning out your day’ as your first Pomodoro!
Currently, I am using Trello to plan out my daily work tasks. Recently I made a simple weekly work planner in Trello. You would only do this for regular/repeating tasks to help you plan them into your week. Basically, I just have a board with all of the days of the week and then I have allotted tasks for each day. If you have a one-off task you could then batch this into other tasks. For example every Wednesday I have planned time to do site updates – these are often a lot of one-off tasks! I actually already use this weekly method for my house/personal tasks and I find that it works really well. Nothing ever gets forgotten and if you run out of time one day you can always reschedule a task for the following day.
Once you have your list of what you have planned to accomplish each day you could then schedule tasks directly into your calendar into estimated blocks of time. The problem with this is that things can often take less time or more time than originally estimated. Also, distractions can pop up throughout your work day which often disrupts your scheduled plan. The Pomodoro technique is brilliant at solving these daily issues.
This week is my first week of properly using the Pomodoro technique to manage all of my work tasks and I am finding it really useful!
Here were my Monday’s daily tasks/goals:
Write x1 blog post = x2 Pomodoro’s
Edit blog post = x1 Pomodoro
Write x1 article for EY = x2 Pomodoro’s
Edit article for EY = x1 Pomodoro
Design article graphic = x1 Pomodoro
Instagram post + networking = x1 Pomodoro
I am using this simple Pomodoro Tracker
Basically, I just entered all of the above tasks into the system with the allotted Pomodoro’s and it really helped me stay on track throughout the day. Having the enforced breaks also really helps you remember to take breaks and it is much healthier for your body to encourage you to move around and grab a snack. A big problem when you work from home or for yourself is the feeling that you should always be working! It can be very hard to switch off sometimes. But by having a set list you can then relax at the end of the day knowing that you have achieved something important towards your overall goals.
If a task takes longer than expected then you can always add an extra Pomodoro. I am finding that the editing process often takes just as long as the writing process! So ongoing I will allow an extra Pomodoro for that. I am also trying to keep a notepad open so that if any distractions pop up I can just note them down for later. On Monday after my first Pomodoro had been completed I had an unavoidable distraction pop up which threw off my timing and the Pomodoro tracker site just recalculated my day when I started my next Pomodoro. If you decide to take an extra long break it will just recalculate also. Another thing that I have just started doing today is putting my phone on flight mode during my Pomodoro’s (I got this tip from Mimi Ikonn as she does this each evening and for a set time each weekend) I think this is something I will definitely be trying out more often because as we all know phones can be very distracting!!
I really like the visual aspect to planning my workday. Also if things do pop up (as they often do when you have a family!), I know how much I still need to get done to complete my planned work tasks for the day. It can be hard when you are working on something completely new to really know how long things are going to take you and then to be able to adequately plan for them. I think having a record of how long tasks actually take will be really useful for all future work planning also!
How do you plan your work day? Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique?
(Photo: Swaraj Tiwari)