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A while back, I discovered the Pomodoro Technique while seeking ways to improve my time management skills. I felt scattered and overwhelmed by my very long (and always growing) to-do list! I needed a method to keep me focused, minimize distractions and help me recognize just how much time I was spending on certain tasks.
I quickly fell in love with the the Pomodoro Technique, also called the Tomato Timer. It's ridiculously bare-bones and simple to use. It promotes specific increments of time for working and resting.
I readily embraced the idea of a finite chunk of time to actively work and then a designated rest period.
I use the free tomato timer on my laptop and my cell every single day!
I’m a bit of a timer nerd.
I work well under pressure. I take pleasure in knowing there’s only a certain amount of time to complete a task.
The Pomodoro method is super basic. There are only three options...5, 10, and 25 minutes. The 25 minute chunks are the work periods. Followed by a short or longer break.
If a task requires additional time, you just reset another 25 minute chunk. And so on...
Please note: taking the 5 or 10 minute break is crucial.
Initially, I would simply reset the timer for another 25 minutes and not bother with the break period.
Oops. Bad move.
I now realize that I’m actually happier, more focused and much more productive if I take the small breaks in between.
I love using the Tomato Timer for writing, bill paying, answering emails, decluttering a space, etc.
By using a timer, I’m able to better understand how long a task or job really takes.
My perception of time has often been skewed...I imagine something will take 10 minutes, when it actually takes 45:-)
I also find that I work harder during the 25 minute blocks. I can easily eliminate all distractions, because most everything can wait 25 minutes.
Then I use the short breaks to start another load of laundry, grab a glass of water and a snack, stretch, send a few texts, check Instagram or just breathe:-).
When the timer rings, it’s back to work. For me, the gentle discipline is helpful. I'm a rule follower...the timer rules.
What about tasks that require considerably less than 25 minutes?
For quicker tasks, I love The Fly Lady’s method.
Side note: If you aren’t familiar with this interesting woman, please check out her website. However wacky some of her methods appear, I have no doubt that if you try her tips...at least a few will stick. It’s crazy, but true. I first read her book (Sink Reflections) about ten years ago and I still practice things I learned from The Flylady, aka Marla Cilley.
Ms. Cilley relies on a 10 minute block of time for basically all everyday tasks. She might be a bigger timer nerd than I am:-)
I was skeptical at first, but actually so much can be accomplished in just 10 minutes!
If I’m left to clean up a messy kitchen after everyone has headed out for for the day, I set my kitchen timer for 10 minutes.
Without rushing, I mindfully rinse and load the dishes, put away whatever needs straightening and wipe off the counters and admire my work.
It’s extremely rare that the timer beats me.
I love knowing that what seems like an impossible mess, can actually be transformed in a matter of minutes.
I’ve been using timer with my kids since they were little. Ten minutes of tidying goes a long way with three small helpers.
Plus, the timer assures children that they won’t be spending all afternoon cleaning up. And it also helps them appreciate how much time a job really takes to complete.
My son Henry and I recently cleaned out the refrigerator (like full-on, drawers and shelves out, complete wipe-down) in 10 minute increments.
We worked quickly and efficiently...hoping each ten minutes would be the last.
In the end, it took us about seven 10 minute chunks to finish the fridge. Now we know for next time:-)
Do you use timers to help keep you on task?
Do you have a favorite timer app?
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