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The Pomodoro Method and Its Variants

The Pomodoro method is a simple technique for managing one’s work by chunking time into 25 minutes of focused work followed by a 5-minute break. This is indeed simple and powerful for that reason, but there are several variants of this basic system that may prove more attractive to certain people based on their specific demands. Let’s go over a few in this article.

This basic 2-step technique was popularized by Alfredo Montesano, who based our original Pomodoro Technique on the first three days of consecutive work in his daily routine. For Montesano, the main benefit of the 25/5 technique was that it spared him the dirty work of taking regular long breaks. The Pomodoro Technique became popular after Montesano’s insistence that every work session could serve as a mode of learning that would also schedule intervening entertainment time into his routine.

Like so many other ideas about productivity, the Pomodoro Technique has also been subject to modifications over time. Prominent designers for the technique to this day continued to argue about whether shorter breaks are better than longer breaks. In addition, the Pomodoro Technique was commonly used in the workplace alongside the concept of a “4-hour work day” to make the 25/5 method work for everyone who wanted it to. Keep in mind that the main principle of the Pomodoro technique is to reduce distractions and eliminate time wasted on minor tasks, whereas shorter, more frequent breaks add mental refreshing to the entire routine.

The Pomodoro Flow Period

We’ve already introduced the Pomodoro Method and its conservative calculation of a pomodoro period, but we can now also take the additional step of dividing that period into a comfortable length of time and setting a dedicated time period during which we need to work. If we like, we can even set a dedicated period for decompression upon completion of the work to significantly reduce potentially distracting thoughts and return to a more relaxed state. Again, this is not necessary, and should not be the standard.

Time Management

The Pomodoro Method is used to schedule our time. Depending on why we’re taking the breaks and the frequency at which we use them, we might break down the scheduled time into 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 1, 2, or 3 hours. The pomodoro can also be broken down even further into as many arbitrary groupings as you wish. Interestingly, we can use all the same philosophy to schedule as many tasks as we like during the day, but we do so by breaking our tasks into pomodoros instead of 30-minute periods. For example, if you have a long list of projects that you want to complete, but you only have one day to complete them, you could schedule them all into one time period that lasts 1 hour, and then divide it into pomodoros of up to 15 minutes each.

Pleasant Jobs and Harder Jobs

Most of us are terrible employees at work, and part of the reason is that most of us don’t like hard work. If you work a high-demand job, then being nice to your co-workers and coworkers will often pay off in the long run. One of the reasons that people have more dissatisfaction at work is because they fail to properly schedule their time. But even when they do, it may only add to their tendency to procrastinate.

Procrastination, On the Other Hand

How does procrastination happen? We all know that we procrastinate at work because we’re told it’s better to do the easy thing instead of the difficult thing, but what exactly is the difference between the difficult thing and the easy thing? The truth is that the difference is really quite small, at least in normal circumstances.

1. The difficult time-consuming, stressful, and unpleasant tasks don’t actually require any more effort than the easy tiring, peaceful, stress-free tasks.

Most of us like to avoid the tough steps of getting a tattoo or learning the makeup application skill sets of our favorite celebrities. While these things really require more of an attention skill than a skill-based knowledge, we don’t feel the same sense of urgency to reach each one of these milestones. In other words, they’re not really that difficult.

2. Time-consuming, stressful, and difficult to do, discomforting, and dulling tasks can focus more of attention toward the easy things, and thus we avoid them.

Most of the tasks that employees hate at work are those that require a high amount of effort in order to be done. These tasks may seem source of discomfort on a day-to-day basis, but that discomfort usually doesn’t require much of an attention muscle to be done efficiently and rapidly. The same can be said of the difficult tasks if we take the pain of working them into consideration.

The important thing about any job is the amount of effort required in order for that work to be completed. The easiest, least-costly tasks make it through the focus process because those tasks show little to no effort, while the ones that require a great amount of energy make it by the way because they are painful enough that most people are willing to sacrifice a day or two of their hard-earned pay in order to complete those tasks. If you’re just willing to accept a higher paycheck, and also accepting that you don’t have to do anything difficult, then you can just focus on the easy stuff, and redeploy that hundred-dollar savings toward the “less essential” things on your to-do list. You’ll actually make more money that way in the long run.

Conclusion

We’ve just covered a few of the different methods that will help you use Pomodoros as a time-management tool. Each one of these methods has pros and cons, but they are all based on the basic principle of scheduling your time into pomodoros. The main difference between some of these methods and the Pomodoro Method is that some of them involve:

• Using a dedicated 24-hour period of time for pomodoros, or

• Using pomodoros in whatever frequency works best for you, or

• Using a certain number of pomodoros regardless of how many priorities/responsibilities/etc. you have scheduled.