Using the Pomodoro Technique

In my previous blog post I mentioned the Pomodoro Technique as a useful time management method. Before I deal with the more complicated topics of the Pomodoro Technique in my future blog posts, I want to describe how I use the method’s nitty-gritty not only on my job but also at home.

Most time on my job I am very focused. This was not the case until I introduced the Pomodoro Technique to my way of working. My day was driven mostly by reactions to interruptions of my colleagues, e-mails and instant messengers. I got less and less of the things done that I actually wanted or had to get done.

The more I managed to solve those problems on my job by introducing the Pomodoro Technique, the more I saw similar problems in my private life at home. I had problems to start projects (like this blog) and, as I managed to get it started, to keep on going. The problem here were also interruptions, but less external than internal.

I am one of the persons that has the awkward habit to turn on the TV as soon as I enter the room. It keeps on running all the time while I do other things. Less of the time I actually watch TV, it just gives me a feeling of comfort, just like in prehistoric times the caveman needed his warm fire. But even if I’m not actively watching TV, it distracts my focus from time to time without noticing.

Since there are social networks like Facebook and Twitter (to name just a few) it has even gone worse. While I’m trying to get something done, there is a subconscious need to know what is going on on these. To get a quick reward, I will open a new browser tab and take a look. It depends, but if I am in a mood to get easily distracted, I will soon get lost in the web, watching cat videos or a “BuzzFeed top x” list type of stuff.

Another distraction that is not to be underestimated are issues that I brought back home from my job. I like my job, and what I like I wanna do good. That makes me ponder on problems and think about new ideas all the time, even at home. Even if this is a good thing for my job and my career, it distracts me from my private goals. Private goals are an important thing. I knew that before, but since I am thinking about my private life in this new ways, it became more and more important to me to get a clean division between my job and my private life. First I was in fear that many of the ideas I got at home before will now go down the drain, because I did not just bring them to live directly, working at home. By now I have the opposite opinion. I noticed that since I am just writing down my ideas in a notebook and bring them to live only on my job in a limited amount of time makes me think about what idea has the highest value. That again lets me do just the most valuable tasks on my job, being very effective. Now I even have a waterproof notebook in the shower that my girlfriend made me as a Christmas gift (thank you for that, it’s awesome!).

All that stuff that distracted myself from my actual tasks had one thing in common: They where giving me quick reward. A very old region of the human brain is the “pleasure center”. Even the most primitive mammals got it. The pleasure center is giving us good feelings as a reward for something that we accomplish. Even if it varies between people, the brain is addicted to pleasure and rewards, the quicker and often they come, the better. This is why we prefer to take a quick look on Facebook rather than tidy up the kitchen or read a book.

Right now I am writing this blog post using the Pomodoro Technique. I set my timer to 25 minutes and focus on the task until it rings. Then I do a short break, getting my reward (like a nice cup of tea or a quick look at Facebook) and redo, constantly adding value to the new blog post until I feel it is done. The same goes for reading. Since I am reading books using the method, I read more in a month than in a year before. It even works out for really annoying things like doing housework. I really suggest anyone to try it out.

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