Time Management Part 3: Down To Business - Pomodoro Technique

So you've got the perfect color-coded aesthetic Time-Boxed calender and your matrix of things to Do, Decide, Delegate, and Delete. We have our cake base, now it's time to get busy decorating.

In a generation where we have information, entertainment, and trends at the swipe of a finger, our greatest struggle is getting distracted by notifications. Yet at the same time, there is an increasing sense of hustle culture where young individuals are driven to the brink of their abilities to accomplish things, check of their to-do list, or get through a jam-packed day. Thus for many of us, time is our enemy, a perpetual race against the clock, an ever moving finish line. The consequence of not developing a technique to manage all of these demands...burn out, stress, and degrading health. 

My solution: The Pomodoro Technique. Developed by Francesco Cirillo. The idea is to use a timer to break down work into manageable intervals with designated short breaks in between. There are numerous studies that show the benefit of other work-break techniques like the 20-20 method, the 1min on the hour method, etc. The idea is to prevent brain fog and declining efficiency in your reactive critical thinking. 

So here are my 5 Simple Steps to Using the Pomodoro Technique.

I recommend taking a look at Parts 1 and 2 of my "Time Management Series" for context and background. 

  • Part 1: The Art of Time Boxing - https://catherineliang.com/blogs/tips-for-20s/time-management-the-art-of-time-boxing
  • Part 2: The Eisenhower Matrix - https://catherineliang.com/blogs/tips-for-20s/time-management-the-eisenhower-matrix

(1) Look at your Time Box and Choose the Task at Hand - we've already established our work day and the tasks we need to accomplish. So let's set out to accomplish them. You've already allotted time in your day to accomplish this goal or task. Feel assured that you will have designated time for your other goals both big and small.

(2) Set a Timer: I suggest using a real clock and not your phone. Our phone is the source of nearly 99% of our distractions. The idea is to create a mini triathlon for your mind. For a designated period of time, you will focus on Project X. After that time has passed, you'll take a quick break before changing outfits/hats/roles and moving onto Project Y. Those short breaks should become intermediate rewards. So resist the temptation to scroll on your Tik Tok or Instagram for this designated 30min-1hr. I promise you...it won't kill you to wait to watch that funny cat meme for just a few more minutes.

(3) Shut the World Out: turn off your notifications and put distracting devices out of sight. One of easiest ways is to put your phone on the opposite side of the room behind you. The temptation to get up and pick up your phone is often enough of guilt trap to prevent you from doing so. Moreover, it allows you the freedom to enter into your deep-thinking headspace (or as Sherlock Holmes calls it...your Mind Palace).  

(4) When Time is Up...Take a Break: Congrats! You've reached your working-time milestone. Now before you instinctively reach for your phone...take just 20 seconds to close your eyes and rest your eyes from a digital screen. I've personally found immense benefits in taking mini 20second "naps" for preventing dark circles under your eyes, preventing visual strain, and refreshing your brain after an intense concentration session.

(5) Stretch/Move: You've probably been sitting around for an hour or more now. Even if you want to scroll on your social media, do it while standing up. Take a quick 5 minute walk, do a couple squats or even do one of my quick 15minutes or less workouts (shameless pug) just to get your blood pumping and your creative brain juices flowing again!

Remember that intelligence is not just about brute memorization but about being logical, intuitive, and knowing how to take care of both your mind and body. One is not independent of the other!

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