Stop Procrastinating and Smash Through Boring Tasks With the Pomodoro Technique
This time-management method is a godsend when it comes to blitzing through tedious tasks and getting your time back
Every job has those boring bits we wish we could just fast-forward through. You know, the tasks we’d definitely ‘delegate’ to our minions if we were further up the food chain? I’m talking data-entry or manual bulk processes that will almost certainly be automated in the next few years.
I love my job but it is largely administrative in nature at the moment. And, as with any admin job, there are a fair few repetitive tasks that need doing. While putting on a podcast and getting on with the more mind-numbing bits definitely helps, I needed something else to give me a push.
Workers in the United Kingdom are said to waste over two hours a day on social media and other distractions. I, too, recently found myself procrastinating when I had to complete a tedious task. I needed to find a way to rectify the situation before it affected the quality of my work.
Enter the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management tool developed by Francesco Cirillo. Back in the 80s, Cirillo was struggling to concentrate on his studies when he developed the popular productivity method.
The idea was simple — set a timer, work for 25 minutes, and then take a short break. Then, take a longer break after four stints.
He named it Pomodoro (the Italian word for “tomato”) because he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to measure his working blocks. Each block of time he dedicated to working was equivalent to one “Pomodoro”.
Since then, the productivity tool has been used to tackle repetitive tasks and combat procrastination.
The concept works well because it preaches:
- Focused short blocks of time (Pomodoros) to allow you to work without distractions and without getting overwhelmed
- Rewarding yourself by putting a checkmark on a paper when you finish a Pomodoro to remind yourself how far you’ve come
- Frequent breaks after each block in which to have a breather
- A longer break after four stints in which to recharge
Most people can do a short stint of work. But many people struggle when they’re faced with a massive project that they know will take a few hours to complete.
The tool is flexible and can be adapted to suit your needs — you don’t have to do 25 minutes. The idea is to work in blocks of time that suit you and that you won’t find overwhelming.
The free tool that will give you your time back
This free tool modelled after the Pomodoro Technique allowed me to experience the full benefits of the famed productivity tool. Created by Tokyo-based indie web developer Yuya Uzu, the tool is simple and effective.
There is no need to download any fancy software or create log-in details.
To get started, all you have to do is fill in the task you’re working on and then select how many ‘Pomodoros’ you think will take you to complete it.
You then hit start and crack on with your work. When your 25 minutes are up, an alarm sounds indicating you’ve completed a Pomodoro. Then, you can take a short break or long break via the browser. The Pomodoro tool will let you know when you need to get back to work.
Rinse and repeat. Simple, right?
How it worked for me
Working through tedious jobs was far more effective with the Pomodoro Technique.
I had a massive data-entry project to complete recently. There was a seemingly endless Excel sheet of data that needed to be processed. It was slow going.
It was also the perfect project to try the Pomodoro Technique on.
I wanted to challenge myself and see how many entries I could process within 25 minutes. Could I beat my personal best? How productive could I actually be if I really pushed myself?
It turns out, very. I went from completing 15 entries in an hour to completing 15 entries in 25 minutes.
To give myself my best chance at success, I:
- Put my phone in airplane mode. Because, why not? It was only a 25-minute stint. Surely, I could stay off my phone for 25 minutes!
- Made sure any distracting tabs were closed. I did not let myself open them again until I finished my Pomodoro.
- Opened a new window in my browser where I only opened documents related to the project.
- Promised myself I would respect the breaks and reward myself when I finished.
My task was no longer an insurmountable mountain that I wanted to put off. Instead, it was broken up into little 25 minute chunks.
And after I completed those chunks of work? I could catch-up with my social media guilt-free during my Pomodoro-sanctioned breaks.
Turning the menial task into a fun game using Pomodoro gave it that bit of excitement that allowed me to push through.
Each time I completed a Pomodoro without getting distracted, I felt a sense of satisfaction. It was incredible to see just how much work you could do in 25 minutes if you don’t get distracted and focus on an intense work “sprint”.
I would estimate my output doubled. Can you imagine how much time you’d get back if you got all your work done in half the time?
This tool is a favourite of mine and, as someone who has to work through the occasional mind-numbing spreadsheet, I highly recommend it.
Subscribe to my free newsletter and learn from my freelance journey as I launch a content writing service for companies that care.