If you’re feeling that you aren’t getting much done at work, it could be because you’re being easily distracted or are simply being overwhelmed by a wide range of tasks. In the modern day workplace, distractions are everywhere and work can pile up quickly.

The Pomodoro technique can help you push through distractions, improve your focus, and get things finished in short bursts. Invented by developer and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo, and named after the tomato shaped timer he used to track his work at university, the method helps users to break down large tasks into small parts and work on them one at a time.

You work in short bursts to complete a task. Using a timer, these small periods of work time, also called Pomodoros, help the user to have complete focus on a task for around 25 minutes before taking a 5-minute break. Taking these short breaks can help improve your mental agility, but should be spent by doing something un-related to your work. You shouldn’t feel bad for taking a break, as the technique gives you an accepted relaxation time. The break allows you to re-calibrate what you’re working on every 25 minutes.

Personally, I become unproductive when I’m working on the same thing for a long time, because I start tricking myself to think it’s very important. Have you ever found yourself spending over 15 minutes agonizing over the formatting of a PowerPoint slide?

When you finish a ‘Pomodoro’ 4 times, take a longer break of 20 minutes or so.

You can set yourself a certain amount of Pomodoros a day, most people which use this methodology set themselves about 8 a day.

You have to be quite strict with yourself during a Pomodoro, so if you find yourself to be quite distracted during a burst and don’t get much done, it doesn’t count.

The main benefit from using this method is that you feel better at the end of the day, having spent focused work time with zero distractions, you feel a lot more productive. The 5 minute breaks are perfect for taking in some fresh air and to relax.

This method can be supplemented by a select few apps that can help you organise your tasks. These apps can be downloaded for free on Apple and Android:

  • GTasks is a useful task manager app that allows you to prioritise tasks by importance, which you can schedule to your calendar.
  • Google Keep is a notepad app which allows the user to keep short reminders or ideas in, which you can categorise quite easily.
  • The last app you should consider downloading is Google Calendar. This is a versatile scheduling app that allows the user to schedule events and reminders quickly. You can set yourself different notifications to remind you of an event. One tip is to turn off the email reminder option if it is a daily/weekly task.
In summary, the Pomodoro technique is great for improving your productivity at work by staying focused for short periods of time. Supporting this methodology with the apps mentioned, you can transform your work output during the day.

By Ian Davies, M.D. of Liberty-I