We can’t let David Allen have all the fun! Below are some great tips from students who’ve mastered time management, one of whom has really gotten the hang of the popular Pomodoro technique. It’s centered on a daily routine with intervals of 25 minutes of uninterrupted work — a “pomodoro” — and 5 minutes on break. A kitchen timer, like the one pictured here, is a must have. Download a 30-page guide for free.
Jason Shore of William Jewell College:
- I keep all my important tasks on Producteev, and star them with the appropriate level. When using the pomodoro technique, I’ll begin with taking on my tasks that have the highest importance and then work my way down. I’ll normally have tabs open for my pomodoro timer and my Producteev tasks.
- After about a month, it will feel more natural. Make sure to stick with it, as you do more “pomodoros” (25 minutes of uninterrupted work), you’ll get better at it. You’ll become so focused that your mind doesn’t wander until you hear your timer ding. I use tomato timer while using the pomodoro technique on the web, and Pomodroido while using it on my phone.
- Project out your tasks, so your unplanned/urgent list is rather small. Normally, I’ll have about 2-3 times as many scheduled to-do’s as unplanned or urgent tasks. A lot of the time, I try to knock out any urgent task ASAP, and they never make it to my to-do list.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. In today’s world with numerous distractions (my weakness is Twitter), it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand.
- Also, if the default times (25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break) seem too long or short for the task at hand, adjust them to better fit. Depending on my deadline, I’ll adjust the time. Normally, I’ll just increase it, or skip a break.
Jessica Danger Hansen of Oregon State:
- Take a 5-7 minute break after 30 minutes of diligent work, actively imagine yourself on vacation or simply spending time doing something you love and the leisurely/fun activities you would be doing, and then resume working for another solid half an hour, repeat! Mini mental vacations like that reset your brain and allow you to concentrate better and be more productive when you are working.
- Set an alarm on your cell phone/pda/computer to go off at the time you decide to resume working, that way you can totally zone out without having to worry about knowing when to get back to work.
- Pulling long days with studying [or working] 7/8 hours at a time definitely requires little breaks like this to let your mind reset and be able to continue to function at maximum potential.
Whether using as a crutch when it’s hard to focus or going all out in a Pomodoro frenzy, it’s worth a look. Try the Pomodoro Technique with your daily digest and let us know what you think!
Photo Credit: Alex Hung