Does this situation sound familiar? You got an assignment from your client and it is due for next week. However, every time you try to do it, something distracts you. It can be a friend calling you on Viber, your cat demanding attention, a phone call from a long-lost relative that picked the worst possible moment to call you after 20 years. Or anything else for that matter. In the end, you don’t send the assignment on time and the client is upset at you.
Interruptions can be a big problem. This research found out that it takes 23 minutes in average to get back on track after a distraction. Here’s what Gloria Mark, study lead said:
You have to completely shift your thinking, it takes you a while to get into it and it takes you awhile to get back and remember where you were…We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.
We were all interrupted at some point while working. Many of us get easily distracted. It happened to me on a few occasions. But did you know that there is a great way to stay focused and get more productive that actually works?
This is the “Pomodoro Technique“.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is the “brainchild” of an Italian author, entrepreneur and developer Francesco Cirillo. At the time Cirillo thought of this technique (early 1990s), he was a university student and he noticed the biggest problem he had was concentrating long enough to actually do any studying.
So, what he did was take a simple tomato-shaped timer (hence the name “Pomodoro technique”), set it to 25 minutes, fully concentrate on the task at hand for those 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, do another 25 minutes and so on. After 4 such sessions, Cirillo allowed himself a longer break, usually 15-20 minutes and then returned to work again if necessary.
Of course, you don’t have to use a tomato-shaped timer. You can use an egg timer. Or set your watch if it has a timer function. Personally, I like to use apps like Tomato if I’m on my desktop and Scheduler: Pomodoro Timer on my Android phone. But there’s really a whole load of great Pomodoro apps out there for Windows, Android, iOS or Linux, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that suits you.
How to Use Pomodoro Technique to Increase Your Productivity?
Using Pomodoro technique is very simple and I already explained the basic process. Here’s how I do it:
- First I find a quiet place to work in. It’s usually best to have “your own spot” where it’s easiest for you to concentrate, rather than switching places every time.
- Get every distraction, living and nonliving out. Everyone should know that you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed. I also turn off the WiFi on my phone. and don’t use any desktop notifications like for email or Facebook.
- Then, I set a timer to 25 minutes and start working. No stopping, unless the house is on fire. No checking your phone or browsing the Internet at this time.
- After 25 minutes, I take a short 5-minute break. You can’t really do anything in 5 minutes, so I just do a couple of push-ups or squats to get my blood pumping. Then it’s back to work for another 25 minutes.
- Once I complete 4 such sessions (25+5+25+5+25+5+25), or a total of 2 hours (give or take a few minutes), I then take a longer break, usually 20 minutes. You can go for 15 or 30 minutes as well.
- This is where I usually figure out I’ve completed the task and find something new and interesting to do.
That’s all there is really. It’s quite simple, yet incredibly effective if you find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand and can be invaluable to any freelancer.
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