Using the Pomodoro Technique to Get More Done

We’re in the age of procrastination right now. Social media and distracting apps are sucking up time, energy and motivation across the population like a black hole. It’s not easy but you can, and must, fight back as a freelancer.

Protecting your time and motivation is crucial to completing the projects and goals you want to.

So let’s look at a tried and tested technique that can really help you to actually start grinding through your projects – the Pomodoro Technique.

If you’re anything like me, you will now have a huge list of projects, that can feel extremely daunting to make progress on. The Pomodoro Technique is my favourite way to make progress on projects that feel overwhelming.

It can really help you to work on multiple projects at the same time, and to build the momentum to tackle intimidating tasks. It’s simple, but it works really well.

Using the pomodoro technique to get more done - blog post

Table of contents:

How to use the Pomodoro Technique

The idea is this – you tackle your tasks in 25-minute chunks.

You pick one task, and then you work solidly on it, without distractions for 25 minutes.

If you do get distracted, and start doing something else, that Pomodoro is a fail, and you have to start again. If a thought comes to mind, or you get the urge to check something, then you can jot it down, so you don’t forget it and then check it after your timer has stopped. 

This technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s and it gets its name from the tomato kitchen timer that he would use to time 25 minutes chunks.

It helps to use a physical timer because you are physically setting it. It’s like telling your brain, to settle down and it’s time to work. Alternatively, you can use apps like Forest, or even music – like this Pomodoro song, to time your Pomodoros.

This amount of time seems to be the sweet spot because you can work on even the hardest task for 25 minutes.

It doesn’t feel like much of a commitment. It’s plenty of time to make serious progress, and solve problems, however.

Your well-deserved break

Once you’ve worked solidly for 25 minutes, you are rewarded with a five-minute break.

I recommend getting up and out and taking a walk around during this period just to get away from your screen. If you’ve written some things you want to check on your notepad. You might also have time to quickly check them now.

The amazing thing about this is that you actually find that you are no longer actually interested in what you wrote down – which felt so crucially important at the time. You usually find you’d rather not waste your break time bothering to check them – but ordinarily, you would have interrupted your workflow to check. So this is really powerful.

Once your five minutes break is up, you set the clock again and work for 25 more minutes. You do this four times in a row, at which point you can take a longer break, normally around 25 minutes.

Breaking up Intimidating Projects into Chunks

I, and countless other productivity people, swear by this technique, which can really help you to do more in a day.

It actually feels like you’re working for less time than you would if you were just working for long spells.

The extra focus, and the time pressure, can be really motivating and train you to get into a focussed mode fast. This helps you to do more with less.

It also creates an automatic trigger to get your work mode.

As you physically set the timer this little routine tells your brain, that now it’s time to focus.

You will start to feel guilty if you don’t start focussing but you can see the timer ticking away. Even better, you don’t need to look at the big picture of your projects – you just need to work on it for 25 minutes.

This helps you to automatically break projects into bite-size chunks, and make progress without having the mental stress of trying to imagine tackling the whole project.

Each Pomodoro you complete will move the project forward

I’ve found this is so helpful when I’m dreading working on something, and feel like I’m at a creative dead-end with a project.

A single 25 minutes of focus can really help to resolve some major issues. It is another example of removing decisions and friction. You don’t have to finish anything, you just have to work for 25 minutes. 

Once you’re comfortable with this way of working, you can experiment with longer periods of work – so if I need to work on the same project for multiple projects, I’ll often set my timer for 50 minutes, for example.

Play around with it, it’s a great productivity strategy and it really can help you to make progress when you feel stuck or intimidated by a project.


Breaking Bad Habits: What NOT To Do
How to Stop Procrastinating Once and For All

Productivity Books for Freelancers: Work Smarter, Not Harder


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We recently opened up our accountability coaching program Triple Your Output and our first freelancers are ticking through those key tasks!

If you struggle with self-discipline, or simply need someone to keep you accountable and on track, our accountability program can be a great option for you.

We have a 30-day free trial, so you really have nothing to lose, only to gain!


Until next time,

Alistair

Photo credit: Ralph Hutter, Carl Heyerdahl, Minh Pham

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