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  • Writer's pictureKaty Lloyd

How can a tomato help you be more productive?

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

There are a lot of time management techniques out there, but the Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular and simplest to use.

The technique is named after the tomato-shaped timer that its creator, Francesco Cirillo, used when he was a university student. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato) The basic idea is to work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. After four rounds of work and breaks, you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

There's something in the technique for everyone - whether you struggle with focus and productivity or you’re someone who tends to get lost in their work and spends too much time on one task without taking any breaks. It's a great way to break up big tasks into manageable chunks, and the breaks help to keep you from getting burned out.

My version of the basics

First of all - make it easy for yourself by downloading a free Pomodoro app. (I use Be Focused - but there are loads out there so have a play.)

  • Write a prioritised list of the things that you want to achieve.

  • Set the timer for 25 minutes and work through your prioritised list of tasks until the timer goes off.

  • After the 25 minutes are up, you can reward yourself with a five-minute break to refresh your brain. (I watched the entire first episode of Bridgerton season 2 in these 5-minute blocks while writing my last masters assignment!)

  • Rinse and repeat until you have completed four cycles and take a 20-30 minute break, or until you have reached your desired goal for the day.

Pomodoros are good for our brains

Did you know that tomatoes are one of nature's most beneficial fruits in regard to brain health? The pomodoro method is good for your brain too. So how does working on prioristised tasks in 25-minute blocks help our brains?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the thought of the length of my to-do list makes me break out in a cold sweat. We often feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks we need to complete. This can make us feel overwhelmed and stressed, which can also lead to procrastination. The Pomodoro Technique can help by allowing you to break down your tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. By focusing on one task for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break, you can gradually make progress on your larger tasks. You get the dopamine pop from crossing something on your list! (I sometimes write down have lunch just so I can cross it off.....) It can also help provide a sense of accomplishment by providing short-term goals that allow you to see progress on your larger goals. By completing a number of Pomodoros in a row, you are able to achieve a sense of accomplishment and stay motivated throughout the day.

The method maximises the value of our focus time by focusing on and finishing one

task at a time. When we constantly switch to and from tasks, our brain is unable to fully focus on any of them and we can become easily distracted and lose a reasonable percentage of productive time and lose the opportunity to get into real “flow”. The true cost of this is detailed by computer scientist and psychologist Gerald Weinberg. His research showed that when we focus on one task, that gets 100% of our focus. Focused on two tasks shows 20% of that time is lost to switching from one task to the other so we only have 80% focused time available When we move to three tasks, we lose 40% overall focus time to switching.

Focused work followed by short break intervals helps to refresh our mind and allow us to come back to the task at hand with fresh energy. The pre-frontal cortex, (the thinking part of our brain) only has a short capacity for work - around 25 minutes. The short breaks allow our brains to rest and recharge and also provide opportunities to grab water and snacks and have a little walk around.

Do you need a deadline to get focused? I do. People often find it difficult to focus on one task for an extended period of time especially when they need to motivate themselves to get it done. The Pomodoro Technique can help by providing structure and a sense of urgency by focusing on what needs to be achieved in a 25-minute block.

Permission to implement…..

While the Pomodoro Technique can be a great way to increase productivity, it can also be challenging to implement in your daily life if this is a new way of working for you. Building new habits is hard and takes time - but the effort is so worth it. There’s a James Clear quote from Atomic Habits that I love - “Time will multiply what you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy” The pomodoro is aimed to make time your ally.

Tips for pushing through some of the challenges:

  • If you find yourself getting distracted or lost in thought, gently remind yourself that you only need to focus for 25 minutes max. You can pause your mind wandering for the next break.

  • Have a parking lot list set up so you can easily write down anything else that comes to mind so you can focus on it later and it’s not left swirling around in your brain.

  • Fight the temptation to work longer than 25 minutes at a time as this can lead to fatigue and decreased productivity.

  • Give yourself permission to take breaks regularly and allow yourself time to relax and rejuvenate. This will help you to stay focused and motivated throughout the day.

Wrap up

The Pomodoro Technique can help you to be more productive by breaking down your tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. By focusing on one task for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break, you can gradually make progress on your larger tasks. =>The Pomodoro Technique is good for our brains because it allows us to focus on one task without becoming overwhelmed or distracted. It also provides structure and a sense of urgency, which helps to keep us motivated throughout the day. =>To overcome common challenges with the technique, you can try breaking down your tasks into smaller chunks, working for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break, or staying motivated by achieving short-term goals.

Here are a couple of books that are worth exploring if you are interested in this topic. I’d love to hear tips and trick you have yourselves for being more productive.

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