How I used Pomodoro to boost My Productivity

My semester started late this year – I made a trip to Nigeria to see my folks after an entire year. On my return, I dedicated some time to planning my goals, readjusting to life as a student and set my goals. Despite my planning, I struggled to find a daily rhythm; I was not working as effectively as I wanted and at times I felt I was just frittering away my time. My renewed efforts and strategies also didn’t work – I  even had to fight sleep to meet my targets at times.

I felt somewhat bad when I compared my productivity levels to that of the previous year; I worked really hard during my first year at MASDAR and always tried to push my limits. I marvel at the energy and passion that kept me going on and on and on; maybe it was because I had just left Nigeria, maybe because I  was a stranger; maybe not, maybe I wouldn’t know. One thing for sure, I was in a new challenging environment, everyone was nice and I had time to dedicate to work and boy! Did I work? I gave my all and rapidly got burnt out often. Now, getting burnt out is NOT good : Avoid it!

Want to achieve high levels of productivity, produce high-quality work and not get burnt out? Try Pomodoro. Pomodoro is a technique that enables you to dedicate 25 minutes to a single specific task and then take a five-minute break. It basically involves setting out 25 minutes blocks of intense focus – yes I.N.T.E.N.S.E focus; you cut distractions such as phone calls, emails, interruptions, focus on just one task and give it your best. The elimination of multi-tasking enables you to perform better and achieve goals within shorter periods too.

I first stumbled upon Pomodoro back in 2011 while I was working at Terragon but I dropped it later on. I rediscovered pomodoro while I was checking out apps on the Chrome web store  (i.e. a form of distraction that is equivalent to wasting time) and decided to give it a second shot. First, it was great to read Francesco Cirillo’s story; his reasons for inventing the technique and then learn how to properly apply the technique. My next steps involved a reorganization of my activities to fit into the model; I then forced myself to adjust – I initially found the 25-minute blocks to be too long.

Pomodoro has helped me improve my planning and estimation – I now know what I need to do every day and have a better idea of the effort involved. It has also worked wonders for my focus: I used to be easily distracted and usually gave up easily. However with pomodoro I know what I want to achieve whenever I start out a pomodoro block and I can dedicate my efforts to achieving the best results or completing the pomodoro (whichever comes first; it’s a win-win for moi). Best of all, I can work optimally for extended periods without getting burnt out; now, that’s  pomo-tastic! :)

You should try it out too; I am not guaranteeing that it’ll work for you ( it has sure helped me to get things done Alhamdulilah) but who knows? It just might…


Increase your Productivity

Here are some reasons for low productivity and some tips for getting more done in lesser time.

Doing too many things simultaneously

Some people claim to be be masters of multi-tasking and seem to be able to do too many things at once. Truth is, they end up compromising their own productivity. Humans have only one brain and can only share it out between so many tasks. There is no way anyone can focus on a major task while facebooking, using twitter, calling or chatting. It just isn’t possible.

Way out: Cut off all social networking (yes… I know it is very difficult), focus on the task at hand and finish it before digressing. I’ve found out that I achieve more during shorter periods of high concentration and focus than I do during longer periods of low concentration.

Not getting enough sleep

I’ve never been a night person; I rarely produce high quality work when I’m on the verge of sleep. Probably, nobody does too. For fresh ideas and great inspiration, you need to be in the right mood and state of mind. Adequate sleep will most likely help you here.

Losing sleep will make you irritable, prone to mistakes and miserable.

Way out: Get enough sleep!

Fear of failure

Nearly all of us underestimate our own potentials and capabilities, and never care to move out of our own comfort zones. We don’t want to take risks, are scared of mistakes and keep belittling ourselves. I found out that most people can really do more than they think they can. All we need is to believe it and work harder. Hard work doesn’t kill, it makes you better and you end up feeling accomplished and satisfied. So get up, throw away all your fears and start on that task now.

Way out: Cut out all negative feelings and believe in yourself.

Working under pressure

Yes, we all face this at some time or the other. Clients never seem to be satisfied with your efforts, you get unrealistic deadlines and seem to be working round the clock week in week out.

One way out is to work on your attitude, know what you can take and what you cannot do. Set realistic targets and work towards them. Most importantly, try not to disappoint your clients but don’t end up killing yourself too!

Way out: Strike a balance.

Do you have tips you want to share? Kindly post it.