The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to work with time, rather than against it. The idea is to work in 25 minute chunks, known as pomodoros. During this time, your focus should remain on one task until the 25 minutes is complete. After this, a short break can be taken or the next pomodoro can be started. A longer break of 20-30 minutes is recommended after 4 pomodoros, as we want to be working with full focus during each session.
While this is the core approach of the method, the long term goal is to use these pomodoros to inform our workflow in the future. For example, keeping track of how many pomodoros a particular task takes, means that you can schedule in those pomodoro time slots for future tasks. Beyond informing our workflow, the pomodoro technique also aims to improve our focus by eliminating distractions. If we can manage distractions for 25 minutes at a time, eventually our focus will improve and our pomodoros can increase in their efficiency.
This popular technique has been implemented into a variety of mobile and web applications that also keep track of your progress overtime.You create a garden with Forest by planting trees after each pomodoro is complete, or track pomodoros for each item on your to-do list using Focus To-Do. There’s also a range of simple timers that you can open in your browser to track your pomodoros and take breaks, both short and long. Check them out here. Or, you can keep it more simple, using your phone or a kitchen timer, set it to 25 minutes and create a tally next to each item on your list.
Based on the Pomodoro Technique, the FlowTime method takes a more flexible approach, addressing some of the restrictions of focusing for a fixed period of time. Instead, the idea is to pick a single task and work onto it until you become tired or lose focus. Then you would take a break and repeat this until your task is complete. This way, you’re working in line with what you can manage, based on your energy and focus levels. You’re more likely to enter a state of flow, immersing yourself into the task at hand until you reach your limit.
This technique is recommended for those tasks that require creative problem-solving, and deep thought. To get the most out of FlowTime and learn how you work, it’s a good idea to keep track of your working time for each task, alongside any breaks you took and distractions that invaded your flowstate. By the end, you’ll have a good overview of your working sessions for each task and be able to adjust accordingly. You can implement this using a simple spreadsheet or use time tracking tools such as Toggl Track to track workflow insights overtime.
Using the Pomodoro or FlowTime techniques will be far more efficient if we have a well-defined to-do list. However, even then, tasks can pile up and leave us feeling scattered. Time Batching is a good way to group similar items together, and assign them to one session. This can improve your focus for those tasks and allow you to get them done in a shorter space of time. This technique is beneficial for tasks that are less cognitively demanding. For example, emails, scheduling, or editing. It can help to group these tasks together and address them within a fixed time frame, rather than switching focus between small and large tasks throughout the day. As a writer, you might do all your article editing together, or organise SEO information. Likewise, you might have a handful of life admin to do, such as filling in forms, or making appointments. These sorts of things can also be grouped together, and assigned to a particular space in your week so you’re always on top of them.
While time batching relies on grouping similar tasks together, time blocking focuses on assigning blocks of time for certain tasks or goals. This can apply to all areas of life, and can be even more important for ensuring you get some downtime. First, you need to fill up a daily or weekly planner, ideally broken down into 24 hour slots. You can usually find simple printables online. Some things are fixed, and cannot be moved. Other things are more flexible for time but still need to be done within the week or day. Once you have cleared this up, you can see where the hours are left, and begin to assign time for things that you’d like to do. It might be a free hour before bed to get some downtime. Or, an hour or two in the morning where you can spend the time on a batch of admin tasks. However you choose to schedule this time is down to you but by doing this in advance, you’ll know where your focus should go when free time arises. You’re less likely to waste time trying to figure out what to do or reacting to whatever arises throughout the day by following a time blocked schedule.