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Work in Sessions – The Pomodoro Technique

At work, 12 PM

After a 5-minute break I come back to my computer. I put my headphones back on and I start to work on a project that I kept postponing. “I’ll finish it now” I tell myself … and I believe in that statement until a colleague asks me something.

I didn’t understand what he said, so I take my headphones off to find out: I have to send him an e-mail with some data. I search for the e-mail and I forward it to him.

That’s it, back to work … but wait, where was I? What was I doing? Oh yes …

10 minutes later I realize I can’t focus on the project and when I last checked my e-mail there was one unread message in my inbox from a good friend, she surely had something interesting to tell me. I open my e-mail (God, Gmail takes so long to load!) and I read her message. Ha, ha, yeah, good joke.

That’s it; back to work… ummm… where was I again? … Why did I want to do that? … Oh yes …

The problem:

Some of the things you constantly have to deal with at your workplace are the interruptions. Just when you started to work on something important and you’re completely focused on it, something happens. Either you get an e-mail, or a colleague asks you something, you’re suddenly no longer focused on finishing the task you were working on and you find yourself involved in a completely different one.

Do you think you can get back to work as if nothing happened? According to Peopleware, it takes about 15 minutes of uninterrupted work to get (back) into the workflow. So what happens if you’re interrupted every 15 minutes?

The solution:

How can you possibly focus if you’re constantly interrupted by your workmates, your thoughts, or your needs?

Do you remember how efficient and productive you were when you had a strict deadline to meet? How you just pushed your problems aside and focused on finishing the job? How whoever wanted to interrupt you was told: “Sorry, I really have to finish this urgent thing, I’ll call you when I’m done”.

The 5 steps of the Pomodoro Technique:

1. Chose a task that you want to finish

Start with one that you’ve kept postponing so that you can better see how helpful this method really is.

2. Set a timer for 25 minutes

In the Pomodoro Technique you work with 25-minute time units called “pomodoros”. The units cannot be divided and if you’re interrupted during minute 24, you haven’t completed a pomodoro.

3. Work on the task until the timer rings

When you’re done, check that you’ve completed “a pomodoro” on a piece of paper. Any interruption is written down on that piece of paper and it obliges you to start over with the timer.

4. Take a 5-minute break

5. For every 4 pomodoros completed, take a longer break

The benefits

At the end of the day you’ll have a certain number of completed pomodoros (intervals of 25-minutes each in which you’ve worked with no interruptions) and a certain number of interruptions. You’ll be surprised to see how little time you’ve worked uninterrupted in a day, but by becoming aware of it and using the techniques presented in the book, you’ll gradually be able to increase the number of pomodoros you do per day.

Here is the complete manual. There’s another book on Amazon about the Pomodoro Technique called: Pomodoro Technique Illustrated: Can You Focus – Really Focus – for 25 Minutes? (Pragmatic Life)

The result? A day during which you work focused on what you want to do, the interruptions are kept to a minimum, and you can enjoy the success that you deserve!

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