Tomatoes and Your Time

We’re all wired a bit differently. Some of you may find you’re facing more distractions than normal when working and teaching remotely, some of you fewer. Which are you?

If you said more…YOUR biggest challenge is staying on task.

You get to the end of the day and you aren’t sure if you completed a single thing. The checklist of stuff to do remains unchecked as you bounced from one thing to another without actually completing anything. You start a task and then get pulled away by the rumble of your stomach, the sound of an email notification, or the need to take a walk around your empty-ish classroom. When you get back to your work your mind has moved on to a different project or task. Ever had a day like that?

If you said fewer, YOU probably find yourself working too long without a break.

You get to the end of the day and realize you never stepped outside, and your body hurts from too much sitting! Since COVID-19 swept our world this has become a challenge for many of you. There’s nobody interrupting you, asking you for help, inviting you to coffee, or even to go to the next room for a meeting! And so you sit…and you work…and you get stuff done, but your body is paying the price. Believe it or not, your work is suffering too because the less you take breaks, the harder it becomes to do your best work.

A solution for both types

Whichever one describes you, there’s a simple solution: the Pomodoro Technique. It’s super easy to use and helps both extremes.

This method was developed by Francesco Cirillo and uses a timer to break down work into 25–minute intervals separated by a five-minute break.

25 minutes of work –> 5 minute break

Why is it called Pomodoro? Well here’s a fun fact. The guy who invented it was an Italian named Cirillo, and he used a tomato shaped kitchen timer to track his work and break periods. Pomodoro, it turns out, is Italian for tomato!

tomato timer

So we are really outlining the “Tomato Technique” but Pomodoro sounds so much more official!

You can use the timer on your phone, or an online app like Focus Booster which was designed around the Pomodoro Technique. The folks at Focus Booster suggest this technique will help you to:

  • Shield yourself from distractions.
  • Eliminate procrastination.
  • Finish your day feeling accomplished.

However you decide to keep track, the 5-minute break gives you predictable times to connect with family members or change out the laundry if you are working from home…or to connect with a co-worker and grab a quick snack if you are working from your classroom or office. These breaks work well for whatever needs to happen quickly, minimizing the need for interruptions.

We really want to encourage you to give this a try if you are struggling. You might find yourself amazed at what you can accomplish with a focused approach to your time.

It’s also a reminder to get up, stretch your legs, and refresh your mind. For those of you who are tied to your desks, you will discover that you’ll be more productive for longer because you’re periodically rejuvenated.

Try doing a little Pomodoro this week as you work through your tasks and encourage your students and parents to do the same.

Then let us know if it helped, or what you are doing that is also working.