How I Use Pomodoro to Get Things Done

Pomodoro is a getting-work-done technique that’s been around for a while and a popular one amongst productivity geeks. If we leave out the technical details (such as longer breaks after the third round and what have you), its methodology is simple:

  • Work for 25 minutes with no distractions.
  • Take a break for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat.

As simple as it is, there are a few things I do to make it my own:

  1. My focus time is “Get sh*t done” time…
    • The moment I start my timer, it is “Go-Time”. All of my day’s to-do’s are on the board and after I finish one, I move on to the next. Every twenty five minutes is a period of non-stop continuous action.
  2. I have three types of breaks: Meditation, Power Naps, and Cleaning.
    • On Meditation
      • When I first began using Pomodoro, I would spend my breaks strictly on meditating. Since then I’ve incorporated other strategies too. To meditate, I’d lay flat on the floor, set a timer, still my eyes on one imaginary point, and proceed to gently empty everything from my mind. Sometimes, I’ll completely pass out and in my book that’s totally okay. The goal is to clear the mind of thought – to “flex the opposite muscle” of thinking and I’m most definitely not thinking when I’m dead asleep. Once the timer goes off, I’ll reawaken with a new spurt of energy.
    • On Power Naps
      • Even though I pass out on a decent number of my meditation sessions, I don’t really count them as “naps”. There are times where I need to take a very dedicated power nap and I decide to take them whenever I can feel myself dozing off HARD – you know, the times where keeping your eyelids open feels like you’re lifting some wicked weight and your head is busy bobbing its way over to meet the nearest object. When these waves happen, I’ll push through to the end of the current session, no matter how unproductive it ends up being, and then rush over to my decided napping spot. I’ll set the timer for either ten or fifteen minutes depending on how tired I feel I am and then without an ounce of regret, I’ll drift off into my short yet deep slumber. When I wake up from these naps, I almost always feel incredible. If I don’t feel incredible, it means I don’t need a nap… I need to SLEEP.
    • On Cleaning
      • On a whim, I one day decided to try cleaning during my break. To my surprise, cleaning breaks were extremely effective. They cleared my mind not only in the short term but because my space would be cleaner, I’d feel better later on too. In addition to this, I discovered that not only would I clean incredibly fast, I would many times end up even MORE energized. I’m pretty sure that’s due to me getting so amped up trying to clean as much as I can within five minutes.
  3. Food is Fine during Focus Sessions.
    • This is the closest to cheating I’ll allow myself to get. During my focus periods, I’m 100% okay with either making or getting food to eat and/or munch on. The reason I’m okay with this is because when I attempt to utilize a break to eat, five minutes is NEVER enough time. Breaks to eat can easily find a way to end up taking much longer. So? I got rid of eating breaks and now incorporate food into my focus sessions. If I don’t get much done during the current focus session, I’ll for sure get more done in the next.
  4. I use an App called Flora… if I feel like it…
    • Flora is a Pomodoro app and a way to gamify the process. Every time you complete a focus session, you get plants to decorate a digital garden. It’s not a huge reward but I find that it’s enough to spice things up whenever I feel like it. Sometimes, instead of Flora, a 25-minute timer is sufficient.

So there you have it – the above notes are the ways in which I make Pomodoro my own. By far the most important concept I keep in mind though, is that Pomodoro is a tool… not life. There are days and times when I am IN THE ZONE – unstoppable and on a warpath to stomp out an astonishing amount of tasks. When this happens, I let myself go. I don’t have to follow the Pomodoro strategy if I don’t feel like it. It’s a strategy to serve me, not the other way around.

How about yourself? Do you implement Pomodoro into your workflow? What are some of your unique techniques and strategies?

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