A Time Management Tool to Help with Focus

Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?  It is a tool that helps with focus and attention for a period of time.  So, obviously this is a really great tool for those of us who are easily distracted.  In this world today, that is most of us.  What is it that distracts us from the task at hand?  What is the resistance?  I think this is a topic for another blog post.  Stay tuned!!

Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and is the name given to a timer that is in the shape of a tomato.  It looks like this.   Of course, you can use your phone as a timer as well. egg-timer-154763__180

The Pomodoro Technique suggests that you time yourself for 25 minutes at a time staying focused on the task at hand.   I am not sure why the number 25, I have tried it and it can feel like a very long time.  But they say it is the magic number.  If you find it difficult though, I suggest 15 or even 10 minutes.  After this time is up you are ready for a short break of 5 minutes.   You could get up and stretch, go outside for a breath of fresh air, make a tea, check facebook or if your task has been sitting ie: writing a blog post (this technique is great for that) then perhaps you want to get up and throw some laundry in the washer or get a few dishes started.  You get the idea.

I have always talked about using a favourite music CD in this same manner.  I like to listen to music (usually a repetitious chanting type) while I do some sewing at my machine.   When the CD is over, its time for me to take a break.  Usually, by then I am on a roll and want to continue what I am working on.  Often, the most difficult part is getting started.

You can continue on using this technique doing “pom rounds” depending on how much time you have and how many rounds are needed to get the job done.

I can get very distracted when possibly doing some research online and then find something interesting, then find myself checking email, searching on Pinterest and then back on facebook checking out what my friends are doing.  Ugh!!  I often have to remind myself about what I had wanted to do in the first place.  Sometimes, it can all feel very overwhelming because if you are like me you want to do it all.   I know that for me, having so many things on my plate, this is a great tool to narrow down what it is I need to do on this day or evening.

This tool really helps with motivation as well.  Perhaps you are procrastinating about something you need to do.  When you think about just being focused for 25 minutes it doesn’t seem so challenging.   If it is possible to do 25 minutes perhaps I can do more.

While working on a task for the set amount of time it is important to limit any distractions that might interfere with what you are doing.  Turn off notifications from from your email, facebook and shut off your phone.  You may need to let others know that you do not want to be disturbed for the next hour or so.

Do you think you could try using this method?   Have you used this technique or something similar?  I would love to hear how you have used it or what has worked for you?  Please let me know in the comments below.

About Kimberley

I am a Case Manager at My Sisters’ Place which is a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association London Middlesex. My Sisters’ Place is a program for vulnerable women. I love my job and all the wonderful women I work with. I am very honored to do this work with women who have been through so much and are so open in sharing their stories.
I initiated and designed a Clearing Clutter Support Group which I have been facilitating since 2007 with a co-worker. I love running this group and learn so much from the participants. We offer this eight week program three or four times a year.
I started my business Space For You in 2010 and work with individuals in their homes as well as offer some workshops in the community. I am available to speak to groups on “De-Cluttering Your Life”, “The Magic of De-Cluttering”, “Space Clearing” or really anything to do with clutter and hoarding.

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11 Responses to A Time Management Tool to Help with Focus

  1. I have always wondered why they called it the Pomodoro technique! I’ve never tried it myself, but I’m more apt to get absorbed in what I’m doing and need a timer to remind me to stop! Not that I’m immune to the lures of Pinterest and Facebook… 😉

    • Kimberley says:

      Thanks Janet, Yes me too, and I think that is a good way to use it too. I can get quite lost in Pinterest and Facebook and lose hours of time.

  2. Anne says:

    I LOVE this technique – thanks for sharing it! I need blocks of time to work on tasks throughout the day, yet have so much to do that I teds to flit from one to the other. Very frustrating. I’ll try this next week. And I also want to limit my FB checking time to once a day. It’s addictive, obsessive and unproductive!

    • Kimberley says:

      Yes, I agree. I really LOVE this technique too – it has helped me with tasks I want to do around my home as well as to limit my time spent on social media 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  3. Guilty as charged! I have worked with time-blocking before, but haven’t tried setting a timer. Honestly, I like the idea of it being a shorter amount of time, too, because everyone should be getting up and walking or stretching before starting again! I also like the idea of starting to figure out just how long it takes me to complete a task. (I often underestimate…)

  4. Seana Turner says:

    I think knowing that you will give yourself permission to “break” can be helpful when you are easily distracted. Since the computer era, I find that it is harder for me to focus on one thing. Being a Mom also seemed to contribute to this, as I was always half listening for a child’s voice. I don’t know if 25 minutes is the right number, but I think it isn’t the number so much as the commitment to focus that matters most. Great post:)

  5. Jill Robson says:

    Yes, Kim i love this technique, and i use something similar called the Time Timer, it has a red count down so you see the time visual disappear.

    • Kimberley says:

      Hmmm that’s interesting Jill. I am not sure that I like time disappearing lol – I have not heard of the Time Timer? I use my phone timer a lot. Especially for cooking but also to keep focus on a difficult task. Thank you for your response.

  6. Olive Wagar says:

    I like to use an old-fashioned kitchen timer to accomplish the same results! It is like a challenge to play “beat the clock” and push myself a bit to accomplish things faster. Sometimes it is easy to be a slow poke when doing things that aren’t my favorite task. It helps to know that I will be rewarded with a little break. 🙂

    • Kimberley says:

      Yes Olive – this is awesome. I totally get that and its a great way to push yourself even with those least favorite tasks. I use my phone timer. The reward part is really key too. Thank you for your response.

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