At first, I wasn’t sure if it would help. But I’ve tested it for the last two weeks and I can honestly say it’s had an amazing impact on my personal time management.
So today we’re going to talk about The Pomodoro Method; specifically showing how this technique can help YOU get more accomplished on a daily basis.
Why You Need to Keep Track of your Time
Last week I asked a simple question: How Many Hours Do You Spend on your Online Business?
I was amazed at how hard people work on their online business. On the other hand, I was a little shocked that some didn’t keep track of their time. They’ll work hour after hour; never knowing what they’re accomplishing.
When it comes to productivity, I often think of Peter Drucker’s quote: “What gets measured, gets managed.” In other words, it’s important to track your time. That’s the only way you’ll be able to get more done in a day.
The last few years I’ve used time blocking during my work week. Usually I’ll allocate a certain amount of time for a specific activity and then use a clock to track this effort.
This method has worked well. However I’ve always felt that it could be improved. Specifically I’ve always had trouble staying focused on each task.
Now I’ve found the perfect solution in The Pomodoro Technique. So let’s talk about it…
What is The Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Method is a time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 80’s. It breaks down work periods into 25-minute intervals (called Pomodoros) with a five minute break between each.
The idea behind this technique is to increase productivity. You improve mental agility (and efficiency) by intensely focusing on a task for a short period of time. You then recharge your batteries by taking a quick break.
The Pomodoro Technique works in five basic steps:
- Decide on the task to be done
- Set a timer to 25 minutes
- Work on the task until the timer rings. Record the “Pomodoro” as a completed task
- Take a short break (5 minutes)
- Work through four Pomodoros (or Pomodori?) and take a longer break (15–20 minutes)
The method emphasizes the importance of task improvement. During a Pomodoro session you’re planning, tracking, recording, processing, and visualizing. Each day you start by prioritizing a list of tasks. Then you work through these activities in short 25 minute intervals.
There are a lot of benefits to working this way. First you avoid internal and external distractions that occur while doing longer tasks. Next you feel a sense of accomplishment by continuously completing a number of tasks. Finally it’s easy to “self-correct” along the way and become more efficient at how much you get done.
Proponents of this method typically use a mechanical timer, paper and pencil. The idea here is that physically winding up the timer will confirm your determination to start the task, and the ticking/ringing sounds will condition you to stay focused on tasks.
How to Get Started with The Pomodoro Technique
I over-simplified the technique in the above description. Fortunately the creator of this technique (Francesco Cirillo) offers a number of freebies on this website. Specifically he’s giving away:
- The Pomodoro Technique PDF
- A “Cheat Sheet” version of the method
- Daily To-Do List
- Free Activity Inventory Worksheet
I recommend starting with the free PDF. Then use the supporting material to time-block and manage productivity. You’ll find it’s a great way to tackle multiple Internet-based projects.
Pomodoro Timer Software and Apps
Most people won’t take the time to buy a mechanical timer. So that’s why I recommend using Pomodoro software programs or apps for the iPad, iPhone, and the Android phone.
#1 – Flowkeeper Software: This is a free download for Windows users. Just create a task and number of potential Pomodoros and it’ll tick on your desktop. (I’m using this as I write this article.)
#2 – Pomodoro for Mac Users: I’m not a Mac user. But I found good reviews of this software program. It’s definitely worth testing out.
#3 – Pomodoro iPhone App: This is the main way that I keep track of my Pomodoros. It’s a simple app that tracks working blocks and even ticks while working on a task.
For more on its capability; watch this YouTube video:
#5 – Pomodoro iPad App: I don’t own an iPad. But one of my friends does and he recommended this particular app. (Plus it has a lot of great ratings from users.)
#6 – Pomodoro Android App: I checked out a few Android apps and this is the best one I found. It has great ratings and has a straight-forward interface. The best part? Just swipe your phone by the scan button and it’ll instantly download.
3 Limitations of The Pomodoro Technique
Is this method perfect? The short answer is no.
I love the fact how I’m able to focus 100% on a task.
However… there are a few things that I don’t like about this technique:
#1 – It Disrupts a Flow State: Paul Wolfe made a great point in one of my recent articles on productivity.
“One word about Pomodoro. I’ve read lots about it – and lots of people talk about it. IN principle it sounds a worthwhile technique – however there’s an instance where you SHOULDN’T use it. And that’s if you write in ‘flow state.’ Pomodoro just breaks the flow state and actually becomes disruptive.”
I pretty much agree with this statement. There are times when it’s hard to get going with a task – Like writing. Breaking down a task into a 25 minute block can often interrupt a task when you’re firing on all cylinders. Stopping work at this point can break your rhythm.
My solution? Here’s a quick fix for anyone who works in a flow state. Use what I call a “cheating Pomodoro.” Start a normal 25-minute task. When the timer goes off, make a quick decision if you’re in the zone. If so, immediately reset the timer and start another task.
The trick here is to use self control. When the 2nd timer goes off, always take a five-minute break. In my opinion, it’s okay to fudge the occasional Pomodoro. Overall though, the quick breaks are critical to maintaining concentration on a task.
#2 – It Uses a Daily To-Do List: Frankly I think daily to-do lists are a waste of time. Too many things happen in a day to accurately determine how much you can accomplish.
Yes, The Pomodoro Technique teaches people to self-correct and learn how to improve management of a task. I just don’t like how it emphasizes daily actions rather than actions based on a project.
My solution? I use a project based weekly to-do list. I don’t create a list of daily actions. Instead I create a collection of 90 weekly Pomodoros (forty-five hours) that are based on the Internet marketing projects I’ve predetermined.
For example, take a look at my weekly to-do list.
Yeah, it’s pretty crowded. The important thing to note is I’ve time blocked each of the projects into what I do online. I created these numbers through trial-and-error; experimenting with what works in my business.
For each section, I have a list of very specific tasks:
- Communication: Networking on Twitter/Google+/Facebook, responding to emails, and answering questions from affiliates.
- Steve Scott Site Content: Writing articles, editing images, and posting content to my blog.
- Future Steve Scott Site Content: Creating in-depth pages about an important topic (like the affiliate marketing strategies overview) and recording videos.
- Income Content Creation: Completing actions that increase my niche affiliate income (not this site.) Like doing split-tests on opt-in pages, rewriting the sales page, and driving traffic to the Go Large Project site.
- Email Marketing Content Creation: Sending broadcast/autoresponder emails to my affiliate marketing list.
- Steve Scott Site Traffic and Conversions: Testing certain things in my marketing plan to increase traffic and conversions on this blog. (I’ll talk about this in a future post.)
- Affiliate Marketing without the Bulls**t Tasks: Rewriting the sales page, creating autoresponders, and building an affiliate center.
- Miscellaneous Actions: Any random, but important, task that comes up during the week.
I like this method because it identifies my focus areas for the week. At any given point, I can open up my project task list, start a Pomodoro, and get to work. I don’t have to worry about a daily list because everything is already predetermined.
#3 – It Doesn’t Count Partial Pomodoros: With this method you void tasks that are partially completed. So if you work for 20 minutes and get interrupted; the task doesn’t count. That can be frustrating if you’re almost done with a Pomodoro.
My Solution: It’s not a very elegant fix. Whenever I’m interrupted; I annotate how much time I’ve worked on a particular task. Then I simply continue the time whenever the task is restarted.
I know this is not what’s recommended by Francesco Cirillo. But even if you only complete ten minutes of work; it’s still ten minutes of work.
How YOU Can Apply The Pomodoro Technique
I’ve experienced a surge in Internet productivity with the Pomodoro method. I’m now able to stay completely focused on a task and avoid the mental distractions that often happen when you’re working too many hours in a row.
That’s why I give a 100% recommendation of this technique
Use this method if you’re serious about being more productive online. Start by reading the free PDFs I linked to and then go download a Pomodoro timer software. You’ll discover it’ll help you get more accomplished during a work week.
Questions? Comments? Respond below to let me know what you think of this productivity technique…Take Action. Get Results.