Playing around with the Pomodoro Technique

Have a conversation on productivity, and you will encounter two enemies: “focus” and “procrastination.” Most of us struggle revealing our true potential despite our best intentions. These two keep lingering around.

Staying Focused

Recently, my wife took a picture of my desk. It had five screens on it – a MacBook Pro, a monitor, iPad, iPhone, a small Tivoo. Every couple of seconds, one would light up and display a notification. Not a great place to focus and be creative.
By the end of the day, I would feel exhausted by having worked according to somebody else’s timeline. Plus, impossible to focus on my big rocks.

Fighting Procrastination

There is always this task that I wanted to finish the following day. That can be an email that I couldn’t answer on the spot. Or something that required some added research to get every element. Instead of seating down and doing the hard work, I would push this to a different time. Was I hoping the impact wouldn’t be significant to others?

Starting using Pomodoro

As part of my desire to better structure my time at work, I started using the Pomodoro technique. It is a project management system to help break down work into smaller chunks. You focus for 25 minutes on that project, removing distractions and mono-tasking. Time’s up and you get 5 minutes of rest. Repeat until completion of your master plan.

The magic happens when you realize that with 25 minutes of focused work, you can deliver a lot. And by containing that max-productivity in a short interval, you stay in control. If I notice dozens of important notifications during my 5 minutes of rest, it’s easy to address them accordingly. I am using “Be Focused” to track the time and then focus on getting things done.

Reflecting

I started with the goal of running 4 Pomodoro cycles a day. That worked some days and failed many others. Today went well, and I closed 8. That felt like a pretty solid achievement. I could clear every digital inbox and as a result, found plenty of time to work on long term strategy projects.

Matthieu Bodin is an entrepreneur and community builder. As the International Growth Director at XNode (thexnode.com), he works with startup founders, corporations, and ecosystem players to innovate in China. He is on a mission to identify the relevant model that will help organizations stay ahead of the competition. Previously, Matthieu worked for Techstars as the Regional Manager for Greater China where he supported community leaders to nurture their local tech communities. He has spent 12+ years in Greater China: Beijing, Hong Kong, and now Shanghai. He is on Twitter and Instagram with @maboxiu.

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