I manage to get a lot done on any given day (at least, I certainly hope so). But, by the time the evening hits, I typically feel totally spent. My muscles are cramped. My eyes are blurry. I feel completely wiped out.
So, while I’m all for making the most of every day, I figured that there had to be a way I could make smarter use of my time—a method for being extra productive, without that weary, burnt out feeling at the end of the day.
I had heard a lot about the Pomodoro Technique, so I decided to give it a little test drive. Here’s what happened!
Before I can jump in with how this method really worked for me, I want to make sure that you understand what exactly I’m blabbering on about.
Basically, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that was developed in the 1980s. I’ll spare you a major history lesson, but it works like this: you use a timer to split your workday into 25 minute intervals, with five minute breaks in between. The basic thought is that by breaking your day into these shorter chunks, you’re instilling more of a sense of urgency—inspiring you to make the most of the limited time you have.
I downloaded the Pomodoro Timer app for $1.99 to help me with the experiment. I’m always hesitant to spend money on apps (even if it is only $2…), but this helped me greatly! It was definitely worth the money.
Admittedly, I wish I could’ve test drove this technique for a little longer—perhaps a week would’ve been fitting. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I only tried this method for one day (yesterday as you’re reading this/today as I’m writing this).
It ended up being a good day to give it a go, as it was one of those rare days where I didn’t have any calls, meetings, or other commitments scheduled. So, it was extremely easy to break up my day into these bite-sized chunks. I’d be interested to see how well (if at all) this technique works on days where you can’t take a break after 25 minutes. But, that’s an experiment for another day.
Every good science experiment starts with a hypothesis, right?
If I’m being perfectly honest, I anticipated that I would absolutely hate this time management method. I’m one of those people who can sit in front of her computer for hours without realizing it. And, the idea of suddenly halting my work in the interest of taking a short break seemed totally counterintuitive to me—how could working less make me more productive?
I suppose that’s why I was only willing to give this a try for a day. If I loved it, I knew I could continue implementing it as part of my work routine. But, if I absolutely hated it, I didn’t want to be committed to wasting an entire week using a method that really wasn’t working for me.
Public service announcement: I have to take a pause in writing right now because my 25-minute timer just went off.
I was honestly surprised at how productive I was during my short breaks. Five minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time—but you can cram a lot in.
I chose to physically get up from my computer (as opposed to scrolling through Facebook) during my breaks in order to give my body and my eyeballs a break from their life chained to my desk.
These breaks were awesome. I ran stuff down to the basement that had been sitting by the stairs for days. I wiped down the kitchen counters. I unloaded the dishwasher. I washed a load of bathmats and a load of towels. I put a load of laundry away. I dusted the living room. I swiffered the floors. Of course, I snuggled Bert.
Doesn’t that seem like hours worth of stuff? I was able to get it done during my short breaks—meaning I just freed up time for myself over the weekend!
As I mentioned, I don’t always feel the greatest after a long day of work. My muscles feel tight and my eyes feel tired. I just generally feel sluggish and crampy.
All of those cleaning tasks I mentioned above? They forced me to get up and move around. I even had to run up and down the basement steps four times. So, I feel way better now (towards the end of my workday), then I’ve felt in a long time. Plus, I have a somewhat clean house to show for it—BONUS!
Here’s a benefit I definitely didn’t expect. But, I found that I drank way more water while using this technique.
During my breaks, I usually found myself stopping into the kitchen in order to refill my water glass. So, I ended up drinking at least two more full glasses of water than I typically do.
Like I said, it’s definitely not something I anticipated—but it definitely happened!
The “urgency” part of the Pomodoro Technique definitely works. To me, 25 minutes seems like no time at all. So, I focused all of my time and attention on completing the tasks that were hanging out on my list.
Those minutes I used to kill by perusing social media or watching stupid YouTube videos? No more. Either I was writing pieces and firing off emails, or I was away from my desk doing stuff around the house. I haven’t felt this productive in a long time!
I’m not one of those people who works really well under pressure. So, setting that timer had the tendency to make me feel a little frazzled and pressed for time (although, I guess that’s the point).
Towards the end of the day, however, I started to completely forget that I was using the technique until the timer rang again. So, I think it’s just one of those things that takes a little getting used to!
I like to finish things. So, at first, it felt a little unnatural for me to just stand up and walk away smack dab in the middle of whatever I was working on (remember my little note in the middle of this blog post above?). And, there were a few times when I’d return to my desk after my break and have to give myself a little refresher on what exactly I was finishing up.
However, this is probably another one of those things I’d get used to after having some time to adjust.
Like I mentioned before, I tested this method on a really flexible day. I didn’t have any scheduled meetings or phone calls, so I was able to break my entire workday into these smaller intervals.
I’m not convinced how well this method would work on those days where you have scheduled commitments, though. I don’t think I could stop a client in the middle of a phone call and say, “Wait, my timer just went off—I’ll be back in five!” So, I might reserve this technique for days when I don’t have anything schedule.
Well, was I more productive using this technique? I guess it depends on your idea of productivity. Sure, had I not taken those five minute breaks, I probably could’ve cranked out a few more emails. But, on that same token, I wouldn’t have done all of those other pesky house chores I managed to accomplish.
All in all, I think this method works really well for me on the right days. I got a lot crossed off my list and I felt great when I was finished! So, I think it’s something I’ll continue to implement—as long as it doesn’t mean strolling out of a client meeting as soon as my timer buzzes.
Have you ever tried the Pomodoro Technique? What did you think?
Until next time!