How to be a little bit more productive at work

Achieving an Instagram worthy work-life balance is hard.

While the hustler’s mindset might look easy with some well-designed graphics carousels and inspirational Tweets, most of us have got deadlines we’re chasing and an endless to-do list. So how can we make the most of our working time without feeling like we’re drowning?

Back in my University days, I used the pomodoro technique to good effect. If you’ve never heard of the pomodoro technique, it’s a process that involves completing a larger task by breaking it down into more manageable chunks of time – typically around 20 to 25 minutes – followed by a small break. That’s 25 minutes of complete immersion in the task at hand, with absolutely no distractions. Followed by five minutes of a complete break – get away from the desk, grab a coffee, get some fresh air, doomscroll through TikTok. Whatever your thing is.

The pomodoro technique intends to maximise your productivity by harnessing your focus in those moments of work. To really see the benefits of the technique, after every 4 ‘pomodoro’s’ try taking a longer break of around 20 or 30 minutes.

Don’t have access to an easy timer yourself? Take a look at this great free website. Pomodoro has made a comeback for me ever since. Add a new tab to add to the 26 you’ve already got open and away you go.

Why exactly does the pomodoro technique work, I hear you ask?

  1. Managing distractions – short breaks help you concentrate better and fight cognitive boredom.
  2. A reward-based approach – your brain still gets the dopamine hits it craves, but only after 25 minutes of deep focus.
  3. Adhering to timeboxing – that’s Parkinson’s law, which states that “the work will take the time allocated to it”. Why spend longer on something than you need to?
  4. Better time management – when you know how long it takes to actually complete tasks, you’ll be less apprehensive of tackling them in future.

Try it for yourself. In the words of eminent scientist (and my personal hero) Dr Pepper, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Top trivia: If you’re wondering where the name “pomodoro technique” comes from, it derives from “pomo” – Italian for “tomato” – and the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Francesco Cirllo used at university.

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