Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Say Tomato….

Post by NCW member Jenny Sunstedt

At a recent NCW coffee, the discussion turned to time management. A few of us expressed frustration with our inabilities to limit distractions, interruptions, procrastinations, and other time-wasters.

I’d had the same discussion with my sister, a writer and entrepreneur in Seattle, a week earlier. Her method of dealing with any kind of ‘block’ is to go to the bookstore, get a few self-help books, and start analyzing her life. Sometimes that’s helpful, but in this case, doing all that homework is one more thing I can’t make time for.

I know my time management stinks, but I don’t particularly care whether it’s due to bad habits, fear of success, fear of failure, self-sabotage, self-indulgence, sun spots, chocolate addiction, or plain old laziness. I just want to fix it.

So I was intrigued when NCW member Brian Schwartz suggested The Pomodoro Technique. (After I realized he wasn’t talking about a poufy hairstyle. That would be The Pompadour Technique.) In a nutshell, the Pomodoro Technique ™ is as simple as it gets.

Get a kitchen timer (the original was a tomato; hence the name, which is Italian for—you guessed it—tomato). Choose an item from your to-do list. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Work on your task until the timer rings. (No cheating!) Take a five minute break. Repeat. Visit the website ( for more details—but rest assured, there aren’t many. The book is a free download, and, if even that is too much of a commitment, a cheat sheet explains the basics.

I’m eager to give this a try, so I picked up a kitchen timer from Target. It’s not a tomato, but it ticks and rings. (As the Pomodoro people say, “charmingly low-tech.” Hey, just like me! ) And so, my great Time Management Experiment of 2010 begins. Stay tuned….

Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique?


dannielo said...

If you’d like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:

You can use it to manage and prioritize your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version is available too.

Carol Kilgore said...

Certainly worth a try. Thanks.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I didn't know the method had a name at the time I started doing this, but I've been setting my timer downstairs on the stove, and then I going upstairs to work at my computer. When the (annoying) timer starts going off and repeats every few seconds, I have no choice but to go downstairs and reset it for the next task. It's a good way to control myself (especially if I'm controlling Twitter and Facebook time).

Linda said...

I can't wait to try this! This technique is similar to Fly Ladies method of decluttering the house, i.e. picking of things until the timer goes off, but I never made the connection. Thanks for the idea!!

Terri Tiffany said...

I'd like to know if it really does work? I have found I need to manage my time much better--now that I am headed back to work, I have to be able to get more done in less time. Might be a good idea!

Quotes About Change said...

Good ideas about time management. I will try this out.

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