The Pomodoro Technique: A GTD Alternative?

The Pomodoro Technique logoNot a fan of Getting Things Done (GTD)? It might be hard to imagine for some, but it’s not everyone’s favorite productivity methodology. “The Pomodoro Technique” by Francesco Cirillo is another option might be a better fit for your needs. This technique works well for folks who feel anxiety when thinking about the “ticking clock” and deadlines.

The Solution to Anxiety-ridden “Becoming”

The Pomodoro Technique aims to erase the uneasiness that come with “Becoming.” The “Becoming”concept is a tough one to explain. Yet, when you put it to practice, it instantly makes sense. At first, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but when I tried out the process, it clicked it. (More on that in a moment.)

So here’s the official definition of “Becoming” from Cirillo: “An abstract, dimensional aspect of time, which gives rise to the habit of measuring time (seconds, minutes, hours); the idea of representing time on an axis, as we would spatial dimensions; the concept of the duration of an event (the distance between two points on the temporal axis); the idea of being late (once again the distance between two points on the temporal axis).”

In general, the Pomodoro Technique shifts time away from the stressful “Becoming” to an approach that takes the pain out of working with it. The Pomodoro web site offers a free download of the book that explains all of this in detail. If it sounds complex, don’t worry — it’s actually quite simple when you start using it. The technique uses minimal tools and just five steps to help the mind focus better and get things done.

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique

Many of us probably fall into the trap that we find ourselves distracted by other things while working on a task that lasts longer than 30 minutes. The Pomodoro will slash these interruptions.

Want to give it a shot? Grab a kitchen timer, pencil, eraser and a sheet of paper before you get started. Apply the Pomodoro Technique by following these five steps:

  1. Pick the task.
  2. Set the timer to 25 minutes.
  3. Do the task until the timer dings.
  4. Take a short break.
  5. Take a longer break for every four completed Pomodoros.

You won’t need to buy a timer if you use the free Focus Booster app, which applies the Pomodoro Technique with its built-in timers. You can try either the Adobe Air desktop or the web-based version.

Focus Booster App

My First Attempt

Intrigued? I was. I tried to write this article in several 25 minute sessions. I kept checking email during the first session. That’s one big bad habit I have there.  But my next session was much more successful: I worked on the article for the entire 25 minutes sessions after that without stopping — not even to read email.

Furthermore, I exercised for 25 minutes straight without letting myself stop for a minute to check my text messages or email. This approach does feel less stressful and offers a great option if I find myself in a rut. I can see how the Pomodoro provides a dollop of hope for those struggling with focus and time management.

Visit the Pomodoro web site for more info on the technique.

Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique? Does it work for you?