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April 13, 2020

Ripe for productivity

Is a retro time management tool the answer to getting more done?

By Lynne Winter '17

Work Desk Do More by Carl Heyerdahl on UnsplashI am generally good about completing tasks on time, but I’m also a notorious procrastinator. For as long as I can remember, I have excelled at putting off what could be done today in favor of doing it tomorrow and finishing it moments before it’s due.

Then, I discovered the Pomodoro Method.

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used (pomodoro is Italian for tomato), this time management tool breaks your work into manageable intervals of time – bite-sized chunks that can make even the worst-tasting project easy to choke down.

The steps:

  1. Pick a task to work on.

  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.

    This one is already set up for you!
  3. Work without distraction for 25 minutes.

    Seriously, do not let anything keep you from working on that ONE THING for 25 minutes. Don’t check your email. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t hop on social media.
  4. When the timer goes off, set it for 5 minutes and take a break.

  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 (two times).

  6. Set the timer for a fourth 25-minute work cycle.

  7. When the timer goes off, take a 15–30-minute break.

  8. Repeat process as needed.

The process is easy to adapt to your individual needs. If I’m just finding my groove after 25 minutes, I set the timer for 45 minutes and do fewer repetitions. Sometimes, all I need is one timed block to get myself in the right headspace for getting work done. I particularly like to employ the technique when I need to start a project that I’ve been dragging my feet on.

Once you start using it yourself, you’ll learn what works best for you.

Admittedly, I still put things off longer than I should – old habits die hard – but with this tool under my belt, I do it less frequently, and even when I’ve let things slide, it helps me quickly get back on track. I am not sure I'll ever be free from the yolk of procrastination, but I’m working on it. And it all started with a tomato.

Lynne Winter is an MSU Denver alumna and the Engagement Coordinator & Advancement Writer for MSU Denver University Advancement.

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