Time is Precious
If adulthood has taught me one thing it is just this: the management of my time is critically linked to my success. It is also the central battle I fight every single day.
Since my very first days in college, I have been on a quest to discover the secrets of managing my time most wisely and efficiently. College quickly taught me that I could not possibly work hard enough to get everything done, nor could a simple to do list capture everything I needed and/or wanted to do. I discovered that I was not alone in this. Everyone faced the same challenges of too much to do and too little time to do it all in.
In the decades since this perennial challenge became a daily battle I have learned a great many tips and tricks that don’t work for me and many that do.
One of my most recent, and my current favorite, time management tricks is the “pomodoro.” Francesco Cirillo was a university student in Italy in the late 1980s who had the same problem I faced as a college student. His solution was ingenious: he took a kitchen timer he had around his apartment and set it for 25 minutes. He then worked single-mindedly on only one task until the timer went off. Then he stood up, stretched, got a soda from the fridge or whatever else for the next five minutes before returning back for another 25 minute session. Since the kitchen timer he had on hand at the time was shaped like a red tomato he dubbed his newly discovered technique a “pomodoro,” which is Italian for “red tomato.”
As much as I believe that I can multi-task my way through my day, the truth is that our brains were built for focus. The Pomodoro time management technique forces me to concentrate my attention on just one thing. After 25 minutes, I get reminded to stand up, use the restroom or stretch or get a cup of coffee, but only for five minutes before sitting back down to get back in there for another 25 minutes.
Give it a try! Dash to the kitchen and nab the timer (or use a software app downloaded to your computer like I do) and start with two or three Pomodoros in your day. I’ll bet you discover that they were the most productive periods in your work day.