It’s a New Year and I am not sure what your plans are, but I have some goals I would like to manage better. A little disclaimer: This does not come easily nor naturally for me. I have a difficult time managing my time and to complicate matters even further, I’ve added more things to the list of passions I want to make successful. Last year, I named my year “fearless” and by doing so, I started a blog, a podcast and started the ever-daunting task of writing my first book. This is all in conjunction with my full-time Medical Profession and selling nutritional meal replacements/supplements on the side.
Now, don’t get me wrong– I am having a blast with my newfound busy side hustles. Last year was a year of “firsts” and now I have the utmost respect for “time management skills”. I’ve had so many planners over the last year, that I found myself writing the same schedule down 4-5 times! What…?? What am I doing? How is this good use of my time? I was planning more than I was doing! I needed a better way to make the best of my limited time during the evenings to accomplish a larger life goal. I needed something attainable, easy and measurable. So, this year I wanted to simplify (which is what I named this year) my life and actually do more than plan. Two things happened, I was able to consolidate everything into one planner/agenda that I was happy with, and I also learned about the “Pomodoro Technique”.
Yes, Pomodoro, as in “Tomato” in Italian. Now, don’t worry… you will not be spending time making a multi-generational pasta sauce crushing tomatoes by hand in your kitchen, but I do suggest you get yourself a cute little Pomodoro timer like this one I got from Amazon. (it’s not mandatory to get this timer–but it certainly adds to the ‘cute factor’–doesn’t it?)
I learned about this technique when I was on my quest for the perfect planner. I do have a wonderful Louis Vuitton Agenda that I love….. however, the Productivity Planner is where the magic is located. This is how you will learn to use the Pomodoro Technique. I also found this on Amazon. Luckily for me, the planner fits nicely in my LV Agenda. Bonus!
Here is the basics on how it works.
1st. Make a priority list of the tasks you want to accomplish that day. The trick is to make it feasible. Break things down on what needs to be done that day. For example, if you are working on a long term project that will take weeks or months, write what you want to accomplish for that day only. And, not for the entirety of the project. List your tasks in order of importance, and your #1 task is what needs to be finished that day. The goal is to finish that task for the day before you move on to the next and so on. Keep the goals for the day doable.
2nd. Here’s where the Pomodoro’s come into play. A “Pomodoro” is a unit of time. Typically, 25 minutes. You figure out how many “Pomodoro’s” you need to spend on a task. One Pomodoro = 25 minutes. However, no more than 5 Pomodoros on one task. This is how we get caught up in one task and not attending to other areas we want to manage. Let’s say I want to write in my book and do a blog post in one evening, (like I did tonight) I allotted myself 3 Pomodoros for writing (3 x 25 = 75 min) and 2 Pomodoros for my blog post (2 x 25 = 50 min). Heres the thing, you need to take a 5 min break in between. Get up, stretch, drink water and NO INTERNET. Just move the body or grab a quick snack. This break is essential and you must take it when your alarm goes off… no matter where you are in your project. Take the break. It’s amazing how much focus you have when you get back at it.
3rd. Before you begin your Pomodoro’s, turn off ALL distractions. Place your phone on airplane mode and turn off the notifications on your computer. Create a sacred, distraction-free space. I like to have binaural beats playing in the background. If you do get distracted during a Pomodoro session, start the timer over. The task needs to be long enough for a 25 min session. Your laser sharp focus needs to last 25 min.
4th. Once you finished the one task, you compare your targeted amount of Pomodoro’s to the Actual amount. Here’s an example.
As you can see on the right side, there is a target and actual amount of Pomodoros you can fill in. This helps to see how your time is being used. It’s actually very eye opening and it helps keep you on track.
I also like the Productivity Planner because it has a daily affirmation on each page cheering you along the way. It also has a weekly check in to see how your week was managed. You can also do a daily productivity score to track your progress.
I have been using this for a short period of time, and I am finding that I am getting more done this way. I feel more refreshed with the frequent, quick breaks and it helps to minimize mental blocks.
If you decide to get the Productivity Planner, it will go into great detail about how The Pomodoro Technique came to be (it was invented by an Italian man, go figure-haha) and how it has helped achieve great success with many well-known people such as Charles M. Schwab.
I hope I was able to offer some little piece of magic for those wanting to manage their time more efficiently. Seems simple and it is– and that is exactly why this technique is aligning with my word for the year– Simplify.
Let me know how this works for you! Cheers!