Improving your workflow with the Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Timer

Improving your workflow with the Pomodoro Technique

In Oktara we have started using a simple yet very effective technique that has been popularized lately which helps us to better organize our daily work flow.

This is the Pomodoro Technique, which was created in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo and is a time management method. This technique uses timers to break down work into intervals of (traditionally) 25 minutes long with short breaks in the middle, and helps you keep total focus while the pomodoro timing goes on as one of it’s essential goals is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and work flow.

Some of the basic principles of the Pomodoro timing are:

  • Focus on just one task
  • Set the timer to (traditionally) 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer rings, record each completed pomodoro/task with an X.
  • Take a short break (3 to 5 minutes) between pomodoros.
  • After four or five pomodoros take a longer break (15 minutes)
  • If the task has not been completed during the pomodoro timer, start a new pomodoro for that same task until it’s done (be sure to take your small breaks between pomodoros).
  • If the task is completed during the Pomodoro, the time remainer is used to review and recap anything that needs to be checked on, or learning anything new related to that task or subject (over learning).
Pomodoro Sheet, taken from the Pomodoro technique official website.

Pomodoro tracking sheet for completed tasks and pomodoros.

From that list, we can identify the different stages the Pomodoro Technique uses which are planning, tracking, processing and visualizing. In the planning phase the tasks are prioritized from a general “To do today list”. The tracking phase refers to the “X” that is marked upon each task/pomodoro completion, which also helps the person estimate better the time it takes him or her to complete that task for future similar jobs or for self improvement.

And that is just one of the many benefits we have perceived since we started using this technique for work. It helps us organize our tasks better, be more productive and less burnout, cut down on distractions and as mentioned before, estimating better the time it takes each one of us to fulfill a specific type of goal.

Generally the first 2-3 minutes of each Pomodoro are used to review and recap so that you can continue working while being well organized. On the other hand, the 3-5 minutes break is advised to be used in something that does not demand significant brain power. The point of these breaks between each Pomodoro is to keep you from burning out so getting up from your desk, walking around, getting a glass of water or a cup of coffee, cleaning up your backpack or desk or if you work at home getting a set of laundry started or dishes washed or virtually anything that doesn’t require you to think too much is good for your break. This break is designed for your brain to assimilate better the information and the work that has been done and to help you maintain your focus better for the incoming new pomodoro timer.

Our personal suggestion here at Oktara is to try and do something physical during your small break times, this way you can get a new benefit from using the pomodoro timer. Every time you complete a Pomodoro and have a short break you can use, use it to stretch your body, get a simple neck massage with your hand, walk around for something to drink, go up and down the stairs, or do anything that requires you to get up from your desk so that you break out of the sedentary and idle desk-bound working style. This will bring you great health benefits and even help you reduce your weight if that is something you struggle with. Let’s say you do 9 pomodoro timers on your daily shift and you do something physical every short break; you’ll end up with 45 minutes of physical activity every day.

But the Pomodoro technique, like any other popular methodologies, has people who like and people who don’t so much. Haters will be haters! That’s for sure, but also this time management method is not for everyone. Try it around, if it helps you then continue using it. After all it is totally free to use, all you need is a timer and some dedication. In our personal experiences here at Oktara, it has helped us reduce the time it takes to complete some major task sets from 8 to 6 hours and we feel confident moving forward with this for the upcoming future.