Does this sound familiar?
You have an important task to complete.
And you have every intention to use your time effectively. You're motivated and driven. You're going to Get Things Done.
But the next thing you know… you've just spent hours browsing Instagram, watching YouTube, or Googling something that seems all-so-important-right-now.
By the time you realize, it's too late. You've already wasted the morning. Or the afternoon. Perhaps the entire day. So why start now? You can always try again tomorrow… when you'll really get started on That Big Thing.
Bottom line: You're stuck in a cycle of procrastination that leaves you feeling frustrated, anxious, and guilty… and you don't know how to escape it. Maybe you just beat yourself up and feel like you're incapable of self-discipline.
If this describes you, the Pomodoro technique may be the solution you need.
Ever seen one of those tomato-shaped kitchen timers?
Well, the Italian word for tomato is "pomodoro"… and it seemed the obvious choice to Francesco Cirillo, the guy who first created the technique using a simple tomato-shaped timer as a university student in the late 1980s.
Here's how the technique works:
1. Decide on a task.
2. Set a timer for 25 minutes (a tomato-shaped kitchen timer is fun, but optional).
3. Commit to working on that one single task.
4. When the timer rings, put a checkmark on paper.
5. Take a five-minute break.
6. After four checkmarks, take an extended 20-minute break.
You may be wondering why this technique is worthy of such attention, praise, and even adoration by its loyal followers. In fact, it may seem so simple that it's easy to dismiss entirely.
But let's take a closer look at the distinct advantages of the technique.
Once you're familiar with the six-step process, you'll see how easy it feels to split any task into 'pomodoros'. Now, sometimes you'll complete small tasks within one pomodoro, while others take dozens or more.
Yet splitting tasks into smaller chunks of focused time allows you to take constructive action, fast… especially if you're feeling overwhelmed by the task's scope or complexity. No matter the task, you can always dedicate 25 minutes to it and see some progress, even if it's small.
The best part: You'll start making real progress on those tasks that trigger the most procrastination. And once you get started, you'll discover that getting started was always the toughest obstacle.
Here's the truth.
The biggest hurdle for any procrastination-inducing task is getting started in the first place.
However, when you commit to a singular-25-minute focus on one activity, you'll often be shocked and delighted by how much progress you make. And this warm, fuzzy feeling of achievement creates a positive feedback loop that encourages you to continue.
Furthermore, you may find yourself enjoying a perverse sense of satisfaction even while doing unpleasant tasks, simply because you're tapping into a natural flow state during this 25-minute window. No masochism needed.
Sometimes you're facing a task that's no fun at all.
But with this technique, you can at least look forward to a well-earned break every 25 minutes, which motivates by giving you something positive to look toward.
Instead of forcing yourself to work for hours on a dull task without any break, you'll benefit from shorter bursts of enhanced hyperfocus that often give you better results anyway.
Plus you can finally say you're "working smarter, not harder"... and still keep a straight face.
There's no shortage of time management systems available.
But while some are simpler than others, few are as comfortable and accessible as the Pomodoro Technique.
Yet its real advantage is pushing you past the psychological baggage that fuels your procrastination. No matter what task you're facing, you can always dedicate 25 minutes of focused attention toward it and see what happens.
In most cases, you'll be thrilled by the results.