There’s a mile-high stack in your head of all of the deadlines, meetings, paperwork, etc. So, because you are so overwhelmed, you pull out your phone and log on to Facebook. And then you see that Jen is engaged to Bob?! You have to check your Instagram.
No wonder that on average, people in the workplace get distracted 200 times per hour. It’s VERY hard to focus when there is so much going on around you. You’re not getting any work done because you’ve descended into the distraction rabbit hole.
That’s why I tell everyone I meet about something we call a “Superhack.” It’s the “Pomodoro Method,” and it is revolutionizing productivity in the workplace—making knowledge workers 2x-5x more productive from Day 1. How great would that be if you were able to be this much more productive? How much earlier would you be done at the office, or how much more would you be able to complete each week?
Think about it: How much do you make for one hour of work? Take out your calculator and run some math right now. (It’ll only take a minute!)
Somewhere between $20 and $200? When you’re easily distracted and unfocused, you are essentially mailing a check for that hour’s salary to Facebook and Instagram. In a perfectly productive hour, you earning every cent of your wage – in fact you’re increasing your hourly worth.
Here’s how to work in Pomodoros (also known as Timed Work Blocks):
- Whip out a pen to make a ranked list of all the important things you need to get done today, each task (or set of small tasks) separated onto sticky notes that represent 25-minute blocks of your time.
- Take out your cell phone and set a timer to 25 minutes (which, coincidentally, is how this technique gets its name: the tiny, adorable tomato shaped timers that you use while cooking in the kitchen!).
- For the next 25 minutes: focus, focus, focus! Ten minutes into your first Pomodoro block, a co-worker comes in with a question. (Usually, you would pause whatever you are doing to help them, and maybe chat with them for a few minutes, but this time, you have a block to finish!) You reply simply, “Yes, I would love to answer your question, give me fifteen minutes and I will come to your desk and talk about it.” And quickly turn your focus back to your computer.
- When the timer rings, take a five minute break. Use this time to answer your coworker’s question, text your mom back, quickly cruise through Facebook, and then it’s time to get back to work. (This is where you learn that Jen is marrying Bob and they just adopted an adorable pug!)
- Then REPEAT. Hone in on the tasks at hand for a solid 25 minutes. After 6 blocks of this, it’s already time for lunch!
It’s that simple! But we constantly hear students reference the day they started working in pomodoros as the most productive day of their life.
Why does this time management Superhack work? Because, for one, you are working with the clock instead of against it! Focusing on one thing at a time prevents your brain from overworking itself. Plus, the human brain is optimized to play games. By trying to beat the clock and challenging yourself to get as much done as possible before the time’s up, you’re accessing the game center of your brain and switching on your focus with barely any effort.
It’s a no-brainer, because it’s a brain-saver.
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