Not surprisingly, while studying for final exams, Cirillo once found himself so overwhelmed that he found it difficult to focus even for a few seconds. Desperate, he came up with an idea: if he could just make himself concentrate on his studying for two minutes, he would take a break. To time himself, he ran to the kitchen and grabbed a cooking timer off the windowsill. You see where this is going, right? That timer was shaped like a tomato.
He found that this trick made concentrating easier. He even was able to focus beyond the two-minute deal he made with himself. Buoyed by his success, Cirillo began experimenting with different intervals of concentration and downtime until he concluded that 25 minutes of focused work, followed by five minutes of rest was the sweet spot.
You can Pomodoro, too
How can this help you in your work? It’s pretty straightforward, and we experimented with it at the office and found that it not only worked but also made us feel more energized and creative. Here’s how it works:
- Choose a task you want to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes. Since this isn’t the 1980s, you don’t need a kitchen timer. You can use the one on your computer. This is one “Pomodoro.” (See, we told you this is cute!)
- Work on the task with full concentration until the timer goes off.
- When the timer rings, take a five-minute break. Use this time to relax, stretch, or do something unrelated to work.
- After completing four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
Here’s why the Pomodoro Technique is effective:
- Structured Focus: It encourages focused work in short, manageable intervals, preventing burnout and maintaining productivity.
- Time Awareness: It helps you become more aware of how you spend your time and how long tasks actually take to complete.
- Motivation: Knowing you have a short, timed period of work can be motivating and make tasks seem less daunting.
- Regular Breaks: Scheduled breaks keep you refreshed and prevent mental fatigue.
You can use a physical timer, a timer app, or your phone’s built-in timer to implement the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a versatile and widely adopted method for improving productivity and time management.
But what became of Francesco Cirillo? Was he able to pass that final exam? We don’t know. However, we do know that Cirillo went on to earn a master’s degree and start his own management consulting firm, where he still works today. Perhaps he has a tomato to thank for that.
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