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The super simple time management technique that will actually make you more productive.

I have a confession to make.

I was once a really bad procrastinator. 

I was the person who always waited till the day before essays were due at university to get them done. Not intentionally, of course. It was just that I had  to rewatch the entire season of Friends for the millionth time. Just one more episode and I’ll get back to work, I’d tell myself. But as you know, it was never one episode, it was ten… or a season.

But when I finished university, I knew I needed to make a change. I couldn’t keep living with the guilt of procrastinating (I could never really truly enjoy Friends knowing I had so much work to do) or the high level of stress and anxiety that came with all nighters to finish tasks at the very last minute.

I know, I know, it’s my own fault but I just couldn’t snap out of my bad habits. And I tried a lot of things. But that’s when a friend introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique.

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the time management method is so ridiculously simple to follow that it can be mastered by anyone on anything.

Here’s how it works: When faced with a task or just your average work day, break down the work into timed intervals of 25 minute chunks (named pomodoros after the tomato-shaped timer that Cirillo used as a university student) separated by short breaks.

The method is genius in that it asks you to work with the time you actually have – instead of feeling like you have an endless amount of time to get things done (“I’ll just stay back after work to finish this”), you feel the sense of urgency in getting things accomplished in the time you set yourself.

Plus, instead of dreading the hours of hard or monotonous work that’s to come, you know you only have to focus for half an hour before you get rewarded with a break.

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The Pomodoro Technique is named after the tomato-shaped timer that Cirillo used as a university student. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Here's the six steps to the original Pomodoro Technique:

  1. Set the task you need to be done.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer - 25 minutes is recommended but you can figure out what time frame works for you.
  3. Work on the task until the pomodoro rings.
  4. Put a check on where you're at in your work,
  5. Take a short break, which could be refilling your water bottle or grabbing a coffee. (If you have fewer than four marks, you're break should be a max of five minute, then return to step 2.)
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (around 15-30 minutes) before resetting your check marks to zero and returning to step 1.

And rinse and repeat.

So if your goal for 2019 involves being more productive, you should definitely give this a go. It worked for me.

What are your productivity hacks? Let us know in the comments below. 

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