Managing your Minutes

Everyone has the same 86400 seconds/1440 minutes/24 hours in a day – but why is it that some people seem to get more out of their time than others?

A very simple yet effective technique that I use to get the most out of my time is the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique teaches you to work with time, instead of struggling against it.

Developed in the late 1980’s by entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo the technique uses a timer to break work into intervals (named Pomodoro – after the tomato shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used).

There are six steps to the technique:

1. Choose a task you would like to get done
This can be any task you wish – small, big, easy, hard, a task that has just landed, or something that you have been putting off for ages. Anything!

2. Set the Pomodoro (timer) for 25 minutes
Do not allow yourself to be tempted by the normal distractions in this 25 minute interval . You know what I am talking about – set the phone to silent and don’t look at those emails!

3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings
Turn 100% of your focus to the task at hand. If another thought pops into your head, jot it down on a piece of paper to come back to, and refocus immediately.

4. When the Pomodoro rings, put a checkmark on a paper
Yay! You did it! An entire uninterrupted Pomodoro on a task!

5. Take a short break
Give yourself 5 minutes to stand up, stretch, go for a short walk or even grab a coffee!

6. Every four Pomodoro’s, take a longer break
Once you have completed four Pomodoro’s take a longer break (20 – 30 minutes), enough to feel recharged and ready to start another 25 minute work session.

Repeat this process over the course of a work day and you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish!

So you have the Pomodoro Technique but what are you meant to do about those unavoidable distractions? You know the ones – meetings, co-workers or emergencies? If possible to do so, Cirillo (creator of the Pomodoro Technique) suggests postponing the distraction until the Pomodoro is complete using the inform, negotiate, call back strategy as outlined below:

1. Inform the other (distracting) party that you’re working on something right now.

2. Negotiate a time when you can get back to them about the distracting issue in a timely manner.

3. Schedule that follow-up immediately.

4.Call back the other party when your Pomodoro is complete and you’re ready to tackle their issue.

Using this strategy you will find that your use of the Pomodoro technique will improve when those unexpected distractions arise.

Looking for something else?

Emma also has a podcast.