It’s taken me some time to find the right way to work through this day, and as I always say in coaching, everyone is different, so I really don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution to staying on task and being more productive, but I have found one particular technique that has worked wonders for my Mondays, and I thought it would be work-sharing with you.
The Pomodoro Technique – A Time Management System
If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro Technique yet, you might be opening up a whole new world of possibilities for yourself. It’s a time management and productivity system that is extremely simple to follow, easy to understand and use, and the best part is that a lot of people see success with it.
The Pomodoro Technique was created almost 30 years ago by Francesco Cirillo as a way to help improve productivity. The word “pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian. That sounds like a funny name to call a productivity technique, but it was named after a tomato-shaped timer he used when he would study.
The technique itself is pretty simple, which is perfect for busy moms like us. There’s no tracking or journaling (even though I love a good journal session!), and modern-day technology has made this concept even easier with some free apps, which I’ll mention at the end.
How the Pomodoro Technique Works:
Your tasks are broken down into short 25-minute time blocks throughout the day and spaced apart with a 5-minute break in between. After doing this a few times, some people find it valuable to take a longer break. I find this works nicely for a lunch break or a quick walk outside.
And that’s it!
So, here are the steps:
- Decide on a task to be completed
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on task uninterrupted until the timer goes off
- Take a short 5-minute break
- After 4 rounds of this sequence, take a longer 30-minute break
Why the Pomodoro technique helps this busy mom be more productive
One of my personal strengths is the ability to hyper-focus on a task and on the flip side, one of my personal challenges is that I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes those two things create a dangerous mix in that a simple follow up email or blog post (like the one I’m writing now), takes 3x longer than it should.)
I’ll sit down, focus on my task, and before I know it, I’ve missed lunch and I need to go pick up the kids in 30 minutes. (ah!), that feeling always throws me into a little bit of a panic, so it’s become critical that I do a few things to keep myself on task.
Allow that hyper-focus ability to kick in at times throughout the day while having a reminder to take a break.
Put a system into place that forces me to break away from the focus, take a mental break, and give myself a timing deadline for how long I can work on something.
There is an old adage called the Parkinson’s Law, which is that work will expand to fill up the time we allow for its completion. As I think through my own work in a day, I see how true this really can be at times.
If I give myself a deadline that I HAVE to stick to, I’ll always get that task done in that time, but if I allow myself more time, it will always take more time. Interesting, right? Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing in your life.
With the Pomodoro Technique, I’m creating a defined time in which I can complete a task and forcing myself to take a mental break so I don’t fall into the hyper-focus worlded of getting engrossed in my work.
It’s been a life-changer for me when it comes to my “focus days” (aka no meeting days), and maybe it will be a technique that will work for you, too.
Applying the Pomodoro Technique to Your Family
I’ve also used this technique with my kids, and it seems to go really well.
The technique was specifically designed to help Francesco Cirillo in his studies, and today, it’s been adapted to be used in work environments and so much more. That being said, there are some interesting thoughts out there that the technique might even be helpful for kids with ADHD who may benefit from a tool like this to help them study. Check out this article by Study.com that goes into this concept in detail.
Additionally, I like it when it comes to having the kids help with a bigger activity at home, like cleaning up the house.
Here’s how we do it:
Give the kids 25 minutes to focus on one room to clean, like the playroom. Once the timer goes off, they get 5 minutes to do an activity of their choice before moving on to another room for cleaning. It’s a great way to keep everyone on task, including myself!
Another example I find this technique helpful is on a rainy or winter day where we’re stuck indoors. It’s so easy for my kids to get caught into screen time, so by using the Pomodoro technique, they can catch a show for 25 minutes, and then move on to another activity, like legos or coloring. It seems like when I let them know they get 25 minutes for each task, they are more likely to stay focused on it until the timer goes off.
Try it the next time you think it might work with your family activities because I’d love to know if it works for you, too!
Pomodoro Technique Friendly Apps
Instead of manually trying to count your work time and break times, there’s an app called FOCUS that I use when I want to Pomodoro for a little while. It’s super simple and free, so win-win.
There’s also a lot of other apps and timers out there you can use, but FOCUS is super simple and easy to use, so I’ve never needed to keep searching beyond this one.
Have you ever used the Pomodoro Technique in your work or home life? I’d love to hear how you use it and any other helpful techniques you want to share with us mamas to help be more productive and manage time.
Finding the Right Fit to Be More Productive In Your Life
Like I mentioned previously, the Pomodoro technique might not be the right fit for your strengths and personality, and that’s totally okay.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with managing your time as a mom and you want to find a plan that works for you and your specific situation, let’s talk.
As a wellness coach, I love working with clients to identify their specific strengths and capitalize on them to create a plan to help you feel like your best self, which means feeling calm, organized and having time to take care of yourself, too!
Schedule a quick 15-minute call and let’s talk about how you can start loving your mama life.
Michele Vrouvas, “Does the Pomodoro Technique Help Children with ADHD?”, Study.com (blog), December 2017, https://study.com/blog/does-the-pomodoro-technique-help-children-with-adhd.html
Frances Cocirillo, “Do more and have fun with time management”, Study.com (blog), December 2017, https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique
Web Finance Inc., “Parkinson’s Law”, Business Dictionary (blog), http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/Parkinson-s-Law.html