Try this clever method to tick more off your daily to-do list

Too much to do and not enough time to do it? The Pomodoro Technique could be the answer.

When we have a lot on our plate, a ticking clock can seem like a time bomb.

But instead of leaving us feeling frazzled, the Pomodoro Technique encourages us to embrace the countdown to squeeze the most out of every minute.

So, can this simple time-management system help you fit more into your day?

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Developed in the late 1980s by then university student Francesco Cirillo, this popular time-management strategy challenges you to work with the clock rather than against it to maximise your productivity.

Using this method, you’ll divide your day into 25-minute intervals — or pomodoros — separated by five-minute breaks.

The name comes from the Italian word for tomato because the original kitchen timer Cirillo used was shaped like one.

There are five basic steps:

  1. Create a list of tasks.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Completely focus on one task until the time is up.
  4. Take a five-minute break, then repeat the cycle.
  5. After four pomodoros, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.

Why is the Pomodoro Technique effective?

“The Pomodoro technique helps with focus by breaking big tasks down into measurable chunks, and makes a game of getting things done by instilling a sense of urgency,” florandorder time trainer Christie Flora says. 

“It’s eye-opening how much you can get done in 25 minutes — and clear boundaries between working and not working can be a relief.”

Time Stylers director Kate Christie says another plus is that it requires planning.

“Rather than letting your inbox dictate what tasks you are going to work on, the strategy requires you to mindfully prioritise exactly which single task you will work on for each batch of time,” Kate explains.

“The very act of planning means you have greater control over your day and your time, and motivates you to work in a more focused capacity.”

What are the advantages of the Pomodoro Technique?

It forces you to focus

Research shows multitaskers take longer to complete a task and make more mistakes than those who do one task at a time, and a 2011 study showed short diversions dramatically improved focus.

It reduces distractions

A University of California Irvine study found the average worker is distracted every 11 minutes.

It aids concentration

On average, people spend 46.9 per cent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing, according to a 2010 study.

It fights brain fade

Recent Microsoft research shows frequent short breaks promote sustained concentration, reduce stress and stave off mental fatigue.

It improves performance

 A 2019 study found effective time management is associated with better academic performance and reduced anxiety.

Who should use the Pomodoro Technique?

Kate says anyone who has trouble prioritising, planning and staying focused on a task will benefit from the technique.

“For students who are used to working across defined subjects, working across defined batches for each subject is intuitive,” she says.

It’s also particularly helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated, Christie adds.

“This approach helps you put blinkers on and forget about everything else for a while,” she says.

“Instead of grinding towards a big, distant goal, working in 25-minute sprints rewards you every time the buzzer goes off.

“And your breaks are more enjoyable because you don’t feel guilty checking your phone or having a snack.”

Written by Dimity Barber.