How to use Pomodoros to beat procrastination and improve focus

Try to remember a time when you actually let yourself focus on one thing. You were not browsing other
October 31 · Issue #5 · View online
Derreck Smallwood
Try to remember a time when you actually let yourself focus on one thing. You were not browsing other things as you completed a task, your phone was silenced, and you shut the rest of the world out to focus on one specific thing. Is this something you do once a day/week/month…or never?
It’s true, this is hard for most of us to do! With all the adorable kitten videos and dramatic Facebook posts out there, our attention is easily swayed.

This is where the Pomodoro technique comes in. It helps us to reclaim our attention span, so we can get the important things done.
The Pomodoro method is as easy as working for 25 minutes, then taking a 5 minutes break.
Imagine your goal is landing a new job. The most important task of the day is emailing an acquaintance in the preferred industry to ask them to lunch.
First things first, how long should this task take? Let’s say it will take one Pomodoro to complete. That is, one 25-minute uninterrupted block of time, with a 5-minute break to follow.
When preparing to accomplish this task, first step is to set our phone on airplane mode and close all other browser tabs. This step is KEY, as this is the task that will make our day! It is the MOST important, so give it the respect it deserves.
Next, we set the timer for 25-minutes.
When the 25 minutes are up, the 5-minute break ensues. Use this time to do something refreshing, such as:
• Going for a walk
• Meditate
• Stretch
• Listen to music
• Chores (if they’re refreshing)
You should avoid things like:
• Internet browsing
• Responding to emails
• Texting
• Reading self-help articles

The break is intended to refresh your mind; the less activity, the better.
Now we’ve finished the invitation for lunch emailing task. One Pomodoro was used, as estimated. We will fill out the Pomodoro bubble and write this in the “actual” box.
The following day, we decide that “researching what key skills are important in our industry” is the important task of the day.
We believe this task will take two Pomodoros to complete (two, 25-minute/5-minute break sessions). We again set our phone to airplane mode, close all other tabs, and focus on this one task.
While working on the task we realize 25-minutes is fast approaching and we do not want to stop just yet. That’s completely fine, we can keep working.
Another 25 minutes of working and our focus begins to fade. All we can think about is watching the new trailer for Stranger Things. Break time!
At this point, its recommended to take a longer break, maybe 10-15 minutes since we worked past the 25-minutes. We also acknowledge that more research needs to be done before this task is complete. We decide that 30-minutes more work is needed.
Great, so how do we log this in the Productivity Planner?
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This research took about 1 hour and 20 minutes of work, so we say about 3 Pomodoros. For accuracy’s sake, we’ll even mark the actual time.
If we know 25 minutes isn’t enough time to complete a task, we still use Pomodoro’s to estimate. We’ll log it as 2 Pomodoros if we think a task will take 50 minutes.
It will take some time, but eventually you’ll know the optimal time you can focus on one task before becoming distracted. This is why the productivity score is so useful.
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This is the main reason to use Pomodoros: concentrate on one task, uninterrupted, for a defined period of time. Then you get a short break!
Feel free to set your timer for 25-minutes on one task, and 50-minutes on another.
We need to caution about working hours on end without any breaks. You may notice your attention begins to fade, but continue to fight through it anyways without a break. By adding breaks to our work sessions, our effectiveness will dramatically improve!
Now you can get to it yourself! Work, break, work!
With gratitude,
Derreck Smallwood
Co-Founder @
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Carefully curated by Derreck Smallwood with Revue.
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