If you spend any time working from home, you’ll know all too well that sometimes, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand.
You explain to your family that “no, you really are working” and barricade yourself into the quietest spot in the house, then open your laptop and start to work. Your phone rings. It’s your sister who’s called, “for a quick 5-minute chat.” After 25 minutes, you convince her you really have to go, and then hear the insistent beeping of the washing machine in the kitchen. Popping up to swap over the loads of laundry, you realise the dishwasher is almost finished, so while you’re waiting to empty it, you start clearing out that drawer full of random bits and bobs that’s driving you mad, because it’s so crammed with stuff it won’t close anymore.
Your phone goes again. This time it’s the school, and you need to make a quick round trip into town with a forgotten swim kit. By the time you get back, you’re in dire need of a cuppa, so while you take five minutes to sit down and drink it, you open Facebook to “quickly check your messages.” Shortly afterwards, you glance at the clock, only to realise in horror that an hour has passed, and now it’s time to get lunch started.
Sound familiar? I recommend you give The Pomodoro Technique a try.
Pomodoro? Yep, it’s the Italian word for “tomato”. So-called because the creator used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer when he came up with the idea back in the 80s.
How Does The Pomodoro Technique Work?
- Choose a task that you need to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 mins.
- Turn off ALL your notifications, silence your phone, close down your extra browser tabs, make sure you’re totally ready to go, and get to work!
- For those 25 minutes, focus only on the task at hand. No switching to something else, no “just quickly flicking through Instagram.” Nada. Just that one task.
- When the time is up, take a 5-minute break, then repeat.
- After 3 or 4 of these sessions, take a longer break, then start the process again.
The “traditional” length for each Pomodoro session is 25 minutes, the idea being that as it’s only a short spell of time, it’s easier to remain focused. However, you might find that you need to adjust this depending on what you’re working on at the time. If I’m doing something like writing a blog post, I find that stopping after 25 minutes breaks the flow too much, so then I prefer to go with 50 minute chunks of time.
Find Your Focus
In essence, what you’re doing is exercising your concentration muscle and training yourself to stay focused. No mean feat if you’re anything like me and have realised that your ability to remain undistracted seems to have deteriorated significantly after several years of internet browsing!
A happy side effect of using The Pomodoro Technique is that you’ll often find you get more done. It encourages you to get started on tasks you may have been procrastinating on because “ah, sure, it’s only for 25 minutes, I can do that.” Once you’re up and running you’ll often find you find the motivation to keep going too, getting started is always the hardest part! The act of creating self-imposed deadlines with each Pomodoro session will also boost your productivity, as you find yourself pushing to complete a task before your timer pings.
You can test out The Pomodoro Technique using the timer on your phone, go old school with your kitchen timer or use a handy online version, like this one – whatever suits you best.
Why not give it a try and see if it boosts your concentration and helps you get more done? I’d love to hear if it works for you.