The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo
The Pomodoro Technique is a book that describes a time management method based on using a tomato kitchen timer to set aside time to focus on current tasks.* It asks the reader to estimate how much of their time can be set aside in 30-minute increments and to describe what task will be worked on. Although estimating is important, it also gives many sections to the importance of focusing and removing distractions. Once you are comfortable with these concepts, it provides ways to handle exceptions to the technique and ways to extend the rules.
The most important takeaway for me was a method for setting aside time and focusing on set tasks for a set time. With the variety of tasks I’m asked to work on in a day, knowing that I can get to and make progress on important tasks is valuable to me. It has also partially helped me with the tricky skill of time estimation, with knowing how many of these pomodoros I can complete in a day and how much I can accomplish in a set amount of time.
The concepts it presents and the way it asks the reader to think about how they react to distractions is simple and applicable, which is why I think that the proposed tracking sheets and more complex rules detract from the technique. Creating and editing spreadsheets or paperwork, and then taking the time to track the number of interruptions or pomodoros completed, detracts from the ease and clarity of the key concepts. I wonder if others find these additional rules and documents help them with time management, or if they could be extraneous to what the Pomodoro Technique does best: A way to promote discipline to focus on a task for a set time.
This is a way of looking at time management that, like all good tools, has its place and can be used alongside other time management tools. The Pomodoro Technique is available as a free PDF from the author’s site at www.pomodorotechnique.com/book.html.
* “Pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato”, and this book also uses this term to refer to a set amount of time.