Have you heard of the “Pomodoro Technique”?
One of the biggest excuses I hear in my community and in other communities of mom entrepreneurs is “I don’t have enough time”. I use the word excuse here is because that’s what this is. A justification your brain is making saying you have too much to do and can’t possibly do more. Or make this business a success. Or add anything else to your plate. But when it comes down to it, it may not be that you don’t have time. It may be that you need to use your time better. That’s why we are talking the Pomodoro technique today.
This time management technique was developed in the early 1990’s by Francisco Cirrilo (Chi-reelo). It is named “pomodoro” because Cirrolo used a kitchen timer that looked like a tomato to time his work sessions. In short, the technique involves: Choosing a task. Setting the timer or Pomodoro to 25 minutes. Work on the task until the timer rings. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK). Every 4 sessions or Pomodoros take a longer break
Ok…so now we know what it is, let’s dive into WHY it works so well for mom entrepreneurs.
The Pomodoro technique helps train your brain to work in short focused bursts on one particular task. And what mom doesn’t need to work in short focused bursts. It also helps you learn to break up extended periods of time into shorter periods with a specific goal. You are much less likely to get distracted and wander over to social media if you know you are working to complete a task in 25 minutes rather than having 2 hours to complete a list of random tasks.
If you can commit to short, focused bursts of time to work on your priority tasks, you will start to develop the skills to complete more in less time AND uni-task. You literally need a focused to-do list and some sort of timer to make this work for you.
Previously, you might have thought of task and time independently. I have a to-do list. I will work on the to-do list for X amount of time. What the pomodoro technique does is assign a task to a short, focused burst of time.
Now you’re saying “I am going to work on replying to emails for the next 25 minutes”. “I am going to file these papers for the next 25 minutes”. “I am going to clean out the pantry for the next 25 minutes”. What comes into play as we assign a specific task to a specific time period is Parkinson’s Law. It states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. If you give yourself a lot of time to do something, it will take a lot of time. If you give yourself a specific amount of time complete a task, you will get more done in less time.
You might be thinking “that is totally me! If I’m on a deadline, I work so much better. Or if I know someone needs it, I do it.”
I am TOTALLY the same way.
That is how the Pomodoro technique can help you with everyday tasks to move you forward. Get it done. Or get a chunk out of the way. Take a break. Get more done. Take a break. Rinse and repeat. You actually get more done because you are working in focused chunks applying Parkinson’s law to those chunks of time.
And as you start to train your brain to work in the short, focused segments, you’ll notice you complete more in less time. As I mentioned in my episode “Limit Distractions to Increase Productivity”, a 2014 study at George Mason University found that quality and time of work significantly increased with the participants were interrupted. And interruptions are less likely during 25 minutes of focused work than you are during a 2-3 hours span.
And if you’re a mom entrepreneur like me trying to juggle kids home and working, those 25 minute segments work great. It is almost exactly one kid shows length. Try this if you need some focused work time while the kids are around: Set up Rescue Bots. Set your timer. Check in when it goes off. Then back for another pomodoro.
Using the Pomodoro Technique
Here is how you can start incorporating the Pomodoro Technique into your daily work routine. Break your to-do tasks down into small chunks. For instance, you probably can’t plan all your social media content for an entire month in 25 minutes. But you could research quotes you want to use. You might not be able to write an entire blog post. But you could research your SEO title, outline your post, and gather your affiliate links. The more you work in defined chunks of time, the better you will get at determining if it can fit into one segment.
If you’re “in the zone”, keep going. Have an uninterrupted expanse of time where you can do some great deep work and stay focused? By all means do it. You don’t HAVE to take breaks. Or you can use the Pomodoro technique for those times when you know you need to work in shorter segments.
Remember time management is a skill. The Pomodoro technique trains your brain to work in short, energetic bursts to complete tasks quickly and in a focused manner. Like training for anything or developing any skill, it is going to take a bit of time and practice…Both in staying focused and figuring out how much you can actually accomplish in your pomodoros.
Ready to uplevel your time management and complete tons of work in short, productive bursts? Start with your to-do list. See what tasks or part of a task you can complete in roughly 25 minutes. Then plot out 4 pomodoros or segments of 25 minutes. Be sure to take those five-minute breaks in between to stretch, go to the bathroom, get some coffee or water. But come right back for the next pomodoro. And remember…after those 4 pomodoros, you get a longer 20-30 minute break. So work hard and stay focused. Your break will be here before you know it.