This past week has been particularly hectic for me at work. I don’t think I could’ve got out of it alive without my pomodoros.
The pomodoro method of working, in my opinion, is simply magical. It helps me climb the hump in order to get started with things I really need to start working on. Gone are the days where I would procrastinate for hours and hours on end on something I just didn’t feel like doing, only to hate myself while I sat, defeated, on my chair with my head buzzing with anxiety. When you need to just start (and trust me, the Zeigarnik effect will take care of the rest), the trusty pomodoro will come to your rescue. Just like it has for me.
How I modify the pomodoro technique
This is the crucial bit, because I think it’s really important to modify your pomodoros to make it for you. Had I stuck with the original guidelines (25 minutes of work, followed by 5 minutes of non-work), it just wouldn’t have worked for me. Why? Because thinking about spending 25 minutes on a task that makes me feel bored to tears (or slightly nauseous) is excruciatingly difficult for me. I just can’t make myself do it. The result? I just end up procrastinating on my pomodoros!
So this is where the magic comes in. I believe there’s a magical pomodoro sweet spot for everyone, a period of time you don’t particularly mind spending doing stuff you hate doing. Let’s call that X minutes. So you adjust your work pomodoro to X. What happens then? Well, suddenly, you have no problem getting started with work. It’s just X minutes, right? I’ll do it! Then I can have my break. And then, you spend another X minutes working on your task. Again, not a problem at all – think about it, it’s just X minutes.
And all those X-minute-podomoros add up. Slowly but surely, you’re making progress.
My X is ten minutes. Yes, that’s right, my work pomodoro is set to just ten minutes. When I think about working on something boring or anxiety-inducing, ten minutes doesn’t seem that much of a big deal to me. So ten minutes is my sweet spot. It could be 15 for you, or even 5. It really doesn’t matter, as long as it helps you just get started.
How I spend my break time
I think it’s important to mention I don’t modify the original pomodoro break times (i.e. a typical one is 5 minutes long). How I spend this time depends on the task I’m doing. Usually, I browse reddit, get my online reading fix, or watch YouTube or Netflix (I particularly like watching easy-going documentaries or interviews during this time). But if the task is particularly taxing (if you were working on a report or essay, for example), it’s important to give your brain an actual rest (and no, Reddit won’t do it). Here I usually take a walk, rest my eyes, look outside at any surrounding scenery, or take an actual micro-nap.
Pomodoros are task-dependent
Be flexible with your pomodoros. If you’re embarking on a task that you like doing, or don’t mind doing, your sweet spot increases. For example, when I’m writing in the morning, I set my work pomodoro to half an hour. I’m most alert in the morning – it’s when my head is alive with creative thoughts, ideas, and energy. And I absolutely love writing. So half an hour of writing is incredibly motivating to me. Contrast with having to clean up my room – ten minutes is more than enough for me.
I’ve mentioned before just how important it is to get into the habit of doing things you just don’t like to do. Getting ahead and thriving in life depends on your ability to set aside your feelings of ‘I don’t want to do this!’ and just get started – whether it’s about paying your bills or hitting the gym for that session of cardio. That’s where the pomodoro technique is a lifesaver. It helps you do just that – get started on stuff you don’t want or feel like doing.
I’m glad my hectic week at work is over. But I’m super grateful for the pomodoros and what it helped me accomplish.