pomodoro technique timer to develop an important time management skill

Improve Focus & Efficiency With This Shockingly Simple Time Management Skill

Do you ever find when you have a due date a long time off you either procrastinate or work slowly/inefficiently for the first 80% of the time and then use that last 20% to feverishly complete the project? 

Do you feel like you’re usually more productive and efficient when you have a deadline looming over your head? 

If you wish you could boost productivity and work efficiently as if you had an urgent deadline all the time, without sacrificing quality, then this post is for you! 

We will cover a time management skill that will create some urgency, to help you learn how to improve focus and work efficiently with the time you have.

{Related: Time Management is just 1 of the 10 keystone habits, learn the others here!]

What is Parkinson’s Law?

I know what you’re thinking – Parkinson’sโ€ฆ that’s when your hands get all shaky right? 

Close! But that’s Parkinson’s disease, not Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s law states that, “A task will take as much time to do as we have available to do it.”

Basically, this means that the more time we have available to complete a project, the more time we will waste so that it ends up taking the whole time allotted.

Whereas, the less time we have to accomplish a project, (like when we have a big deadline fast approaching) the faster we will get it done.

Does this ring true for you?

Parkinson’s Law: A Real Life Example

A great real life example of Parkinson’s Law, is how I had been writing blog posts. 

I started this blog in March of 2020 when the Corona virus pandemic put pretty much the whole planet on lockdown. 

Suddenly, I had all the time in the world to write and work on this project that I had wanted to start for so long! But what I found was that it was taking me waaaaaaaay longer to write my posts than other people. 

At first I chalked it up to just being a rookie blogger, but before long, I realized there was more to it than that.

When a bolt of inspiration would hit me, I’d try to sit down and write everything as fast as it came. 

But I had this obsessive need to write flawlessly (grammar, wording, capitalization, punctuation, formatting etc.) the first time through.

I also struggled with the structure and order of the post I wanted to write, and was constantly moving things around. 

I ended up overthinking things and getting caught up in indecision. Then my brain started getting tired, and it ended up taking me forever to get a post done!

What I realized is that when I got caught up in all these little details in the first draft, I really slowed myself down. Then the inspiration would go as fast as it came and I wasn’t able to get all my thoughts and ideas down.

Now, the point of this story isn’t to teach you how to write (this law could be applied to anything that requires a high degree of focus).

The point is, that while I was working hard, I wasn’t working efficiently

As the Parkinson’s Law states, it was taking me as much time to finish the post as I had available to do it (which was pretty much an unlimited amount of time since I wasn’t working and don’t have kids).

How To Work Like You’re Up Against A Deadline, Every Single Time

I think we’ve probably all had at least one (but probably) many instances in our life where we had a long time to complete a  project, but ended up doing the bulk of it last minute right before the deadline. Am I right?

It could be that we procrastinated and didn’t even start the project until last minute, or that we did start, but were plagued by inefficiency and indecision.

Either way, the Pomodoro Technique may be the time management skill to answer to your prayers!

Introducing The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a now famous time management skill developed by Francesco Cirillo.

The beauty of this time management skill is its simplicity. The traditional protocol is to work hard for 25 minutes, and take a break for 5 minutes, repeating this cycle as needed to complete a project.

Several “Pomodoros” (work period + rest period) can be strung together, with a longer break afterward. For example, after completing four Pomodoros (25 min. work  + 5 min. rest x4) you can take a longer 15 minute break.

The purpose of the Pomodoro Technique is to only work for the length of time that a person is able to sustain a high level of focus, then to take a break before the brain starts to fatigue and become inefficient. 

However, it should be noted that everyone is different, some people will be able to maintain focus for more or less time than this. That’s okay, feel free to tailor this to your needs, but try not to exceed 50 minutes of straight work without a break.

For example, I find 30-35 minutes of work with 6-7 minutes of rest to be perfect for me. 

pomodoro technique timer to develop an important time management skill
Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. The technique gets it’s name from this tomato shaped kitchen timer.

For best results with the Pomodoro Technique, follow these rules:

  • Do NOT multitask.
  • Give yourself ONE goal to focus on for your work period, and challenge yourself to accomplish it before time runs out.
  • Put aside all distractions before starting.
    • Find a quiet place to work if you can.
    • Put your phone on airplane mode or in the other room.
  • Make sure you have everything you need to do your work within reach so you don’t have to break your focus to go get it.
  • Set your timer for the allotted work period, and get busy!
"Human beings are not efficient multitaskers. Firstly, because of the limited attention we can devote to each thing. Secondly, because each time we leave a task then go back to it, we suffer greatly from fatigue." -Hector Garcia Click To Tweet

What Should You Do During Your Rest Period?

The purpose of the rest period is to give your brain a chance to recover from the intense period of work. So you definitely don’t want to do something that will tax your brain further.ย 

Instead, try the following:

  • Get up from your desk and walk around a bit.
  • Grab a quick snack.
  • Use the restroom.
  • Get some water.

Benefits Of The Pomodoro Technique

There are lots of benefits to this time management skill, but together, they all amount to more efficient work habits. 

The Pomodoro Technique:

  • Forces you to make decisions when normally you’d waste all kinds of time debating what’s best.
  • Gives some urgency to the task which requires you to find the most efficient way to complete it.
  • Helps you to take regular breaks so you don’t continue working when taking a break would have been more beneficial in the long run.
  • Can improve the amount of time you are able to maintain high levels of focus.

How This Time Management Skill Helped Me Do More Work in Less Time

After discovering the Pomodoro Technique, the amount of time it takes me to finish a post has decreased sharply – almost like night and day!

Before I had been trying to get all my ideas down on paper, edit, format and sometimes do keyword research all at once – and it wasn’t working for me at all.

After learning this time management skill, I now set only one distinct goal for each work period. An example of my workflow now looks something like this:

  • Pomodoro 1 – research.
  • Pomodoro 2 – rough draft sections A, B, and C.
  • Pomodoro 3 – rough draft sections X, Y, and Z.
  • Pomodoro 4 – find images/design graphics.
  • Pomodoro 5 – proofread/format text.

What was most beneficial about the Pomodoro Technique for me was that it didn’t allow me to multitask or be indecisive. 

It also lit a bit of fire under my competitive booty, which helped me throw out the parts of my process that were wasting time.

Now I’m writing posts much more quickly and am feeling less overwhelmed while doing it. Because of this I’m able to plan out things further in advance and get more done in less time without sacrificing quality.

Who doesn’t want that?!

Conclusion

Parkinson’s Law states that “A task will take as much time to do as we have available to do it.”

This is a result of procrastination, distraction, lack of focus, and inefficient processes.

The cure to the inefficiency that Parkinson’s law describes, is the Pomodoro Technique.

In summary, the benefits of this time management skill are:

  • The time limit forces you to make decisions rather than wasting time being indecisive.
  • The technique requires no distractions or multitasking, both of which fatigue the brain.
  • The work to rest ratio is designed around the length of time a person can maintain complete focus.
  • Focusing on accomplishing a single goal during a set period of time forces you to abandon inefficient processes.

So grab yourself a kitchen timer, and give the Pomodoro Technique a try. You won’t regret it!

~Clarissa

P.S. If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to sign up to get the secret password to my free resource library. I’ve got some brand new resources coming out next week that you won’t want to miss!

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Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

48 Replies to “Improve Focus & Efficiency With This Shockingly Simple Time Management Skill

  1. This post is giving me life!! All the tips that I need. I do pretty well at Time managing, but since I have started blogging in July and okus having to work and work on another business, the time flies so fast. These tips are meant for me.

    Thanks for this.

    1. Pomodoro technique is something I have yet to try and I should start soon, my workflow is also quite a mess when it comes to blogging ๐Ÿ˜‚
      so thank you for this post and explaining it well!

      Shuana
      howivebeen.com

    2. Yes, I’m so glad it hit home for you Rebekah! I feel I am typically pretty good about time management as well, but this technique really forces you to make your work process more efficient, and I love it! Hope you find it as helpful as I did when I discovered it!

  2. I hadn’t heard of Parkinson’s Law before. It always happens to me, I didn’t know there was a word for it! My job is quite high pressure and I find that I am sooo much more inefficient and slow when I’m not busy! Now I know why. I think we are on the same wavelengths because today was the first day I tried to Pomodoro technique (before reading your blog). I told my husband not to disturb me between 3-5pm. It’s Friday and I didn’t want to work late. I put my phone in my drawer and sat down and worked on the big task I needed to finish in 25 minute blocks. It actually worked! I didn’t get distracted and I didn’t waste time. I have the same issue with blogging, I’m going to have to use this technique with it too.

    1. That’s so funny you just tried this today before reading! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Maybe we are on the same wavelength. It really doesn’t seem like there is much to the technique, but I tell you, it worked wonders for me! I am glad you are having success with it as well. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  3. Wonderful post! I had not heard of either Parkinson’s Law or the Pomodoro Technique before, but I’m going to try them! No, you are not the slowest blogger. I’m pretty sure that’s me.

    Thank you for sharing the Pomodoro Technique. Hopefully it will help me accomplish more, too.

    1. I’m so glad you found it useful! It really did help me weed out the distractions, overthinking, and inefficiencies in my work flow. I really hope it will do the same for you. Best of luck, and happy writing!

    1. That’s great Mrs. D! Everyone is different, but for my short attention span I find I get more and more inefficient anywhere past a half an hour or so on most occasions (sometimes I do get struck by inspiration and can keep it up much longer). But then again I have friends that are super-concentraters as I call them, and they can maintain that urgency the Pomodoro Technique creates for around 50 minutes on a regular basis. Asking as we can figure out a timeframe that works for us, it’s a fantastic technique. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    1. Thank you! I always feel like I spend sooooo much time writing titles, I’m glad this one paid off!

      Yes prioritizing is extremely important. Once you’ve chosen which task needs your attention first, the Pomodoro Technique is a fantastic way to tackle it!

  4. Thank you for the tips!! I’m so bad at putting things off and waiting till the last minute to do them. I also do a lot of multi tasking. Definitely going to give this a try! Thank you!

  5. The Pomodoro Technique sounds very helpful. I am going to have to give that a try. I am just now getting back to writing in my blog after a very long hiatus. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Wow, love these tips! I guess I’ve been utilizing the Pomodoro Technique a lot recently without knowing the name! I have definitely found that breaks are super beneficial and am trying to balance my school load with 30 min increments and 5-15 min breaks.

    Awesome post!

    1. Thank you Harumi! That’s great that you were already using it. I wish I knew about this back when I was in school! I used to try the marathon study sessions and my brain would get so mushy… ๐Ÿ˜‚ The Pomodoro Technique really helps me keep my brain fresh so I can get more done. Thanks so much for reading!

  7. Awesome post man! I could really connect with this! Specially the pomodoro technique!!I never know I was already following the Pomodoro Technique, until I read this article!!
    Thank you so much for sharing it! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  8. I had never heard of Parkinson’s Law before! This is so interesting. I’ve often wondered how somethings can take an eternity and yet when given a crunch deadline you can finish your task easily. Saving this so I can start using the Pomodoro Technique ASAP! Multi-tasking is a time suck for sure. Thanks so much for sharing this information! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You’re welcome Sherry! The Parkinson’s Law seems silly, but I find it seems to be the case more often than not for most people! I hope the Pomodoro Technique is the cure for you – best of luck, and thanks for reading!

  9. I’ve been using the technique on and off for a while now. I use the down time for a quick meditation or exercise.

    I’m not sure if it was Tim Feris or the Farnam blog where I first heard it. Wherver it was, it wasn’t explained as well as this.

    Great work.

    1. Awwww thanks so much for the compliment! โ˜บ๏ธ Meditation sounds like a great way to spend the break! I also like to do some quick bodyweight exercises to get the blood pumping. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  10. I have already read about the Parkinson’s Law, and actually I notice it sometimes when I do things too. Haha and i have heard a lot about the pomodoro technique but I never tried it yet. I think when my workload gets heavy, I should give it a try. ๐Ÿ˜„ thanks for sharing this, Clarissa!

    1. You’re welcome! If you’re falling victim to Parkinson’s Law, give the Pomodoro Technique a try! At best it will make your work process much more efficient, and at worst you’ve lost 25 minutes – definitely worth experimenting with it.

  11. Love this post. I found out a long time ago that I could not multi-task, so I prefer to complete one job before I start the next. I will admit I had not heard of the Pomodoro technique so I have learnt something new today. It’s such a simple thing everyone should use it. I think it will certainly save a lot of stress if nothing else.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve learned something new from this post Sarah! I hope the Pomodoro Technique will serve you as well as it has me!

      That’s great that you already know you’re not a great multitasker. I think I always knew that, but for some reason I was in denial about it for the longest time! Once I finally admitted it to myself, my life got so much easier. Why am I so stubborn?! ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Thanks so much for reading Sarah, and I hope this technique will make your work more stress-free!

  12. I has never heard of parkinsons law! Love this! I can be so guilty of all the things you describe! The pomodoro technique is a life saver for me, l use it every day and get so much more done and it stops me procrastinating! Thank you for a really insightful read!

    1. You’re very welcome Finn, I am so glad you enjoyed it! Sometimes I feel like Parkinson must have written that law about me!๐Ÿ˜‚ Thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience with us!

    1. I think predicting how many Pomodoros a project will take is the trickiest thing Lindsey – keep at it! I’m still far from perfect at predicting how many,but I do think I’ve gotten better at that over time. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experiences!

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