It seems like we are struggling to focus on the work that is important.

What I have found to be VERY helpful is the Pomodoro technique (or some variation of that).

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s and is a time management tool that breaks your work into short intervals. This is similar to High-intensity interval training (HIIT) if you are in the fitness world. This way you don’t look at the work you have to do in a day, but only for the next ___ minutes.

How does it work?

In the true Pomodoro Technique, you will work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. You will then start the process over: work for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break. At the end of 4 sets, you will take a 15 minutes break.

Another way to visualize it is:

  1. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  2. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  3. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  4. 25 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break

You then start the entire workflow over again:

  1. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  2. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  3. 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break
  4. 25 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break

How is this helpful?

There is a lot to be said about taking a break, even when you are the midst of something really important. I can remember a time when I was neck deep in a really important problem that was yet to be solved. I took a walk and when I got back to my desk I had a solution. Just getting some air changed things.

Secondly, 20 minutes is a great time to do the “20/20/20.” The 20/20/20 means that every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away and blink for 20 seconds. Every doctor I have talked to has mentioned that we stare too much at our devices and blink much less than normal. So, this is a quick hack to do to lessen eye strain on your break that aligns perfectly.

Why does it work?

Have you ever been getting ready for a vacation and turn into a hyper-productive machine? I know I have…

That is because you are falling into Parkinson’s  Law. The law states that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

So, if you only have 25 minutes to get something done, you probably won’t jump over to YouTube and watch that funny cat video.

Other people have used a technique like “not bringing your computer charger with you to Starbucks.” This way, you are literally working with a ticking clock.

Variations on the technique

I while back I read an article from The Muse and the author offered up a study completed by the app DeskTime and they would that the magic number on their research  was  “The Rule of 52 and 17.”

So, you would work for 52 minutes with a 17-minute break.

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Oh, by the way, I can help you with this...

What are the best tools to help?

I use Chrome as my way to view the Internet on my computer and use either of these free Chrome Extensions:

FocusMe – INSTALL FREE

Marinara: Pomodoro® Assistant – INSTALL FREE

Either of these apps can be customized for whatever work time you want: 25 minutes or 52.

If you prefer a timer on your phone, you can search “Pomodoro” and find a number of apps for Android or iPhone. I personally don’t use one on my phone because with your phone come one of a hundred other distractions.  So, when I work I try my best to completely shut down.