In my previous article I provided five time saving techniques, to help protect your time and achieve more.
Distractions kill my productivity and my mind easily wanders, so I need something to help me stay on task.When we procrastinate we are ultimately delaying the achievement of the task. I want to share with you a technique which will help encourage procrastination (what?!) and eradicate those unhelpful distractions.
As I’m writing this my phone has lit up and without thinking I’m picking up the phone and responding to the message. I then check some of my social media accounts and e-mail. Arrrgh! Procrastination, like this, will be a familiar pattern for many.
Interestingly our brains are designed for procrastination (the break allows us to come back refreshed and energised) and studies show our concentration levels peak and trough all the time.
Studies also show that working long hours will result in us becoming less productive.
If you are chained to your desk it is also likely to result in a negative impact to your health.
Success is not about the total time spent at work, or how long you can sit at your desk for, it is about what you achieve and how effective you are.
With this knowledge it seems foolish to deny ourselves a wonderful moment of distraction – scheduling the distraction is key.
So, how can you schedule a distraction?
The key to minimising procrastination is to accept and acknowledge you need a break from time to time.
If you know you are going to be rewarded you are more likely to focus on the task in hand.
As I write this, once completed, I will reward myself with a delicious hit of caffeine.
I love coffee, so my potential reward is encouraging me to focus on what I write and to do so efficiently.
One effective tool to reward procrastination is the Pomodoro Technique.
Invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s, the technique takes the name from a tomato shaped timer – Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.
How it works
1. Set a unit of time – typically 25 minutes.
2. Work on a task, non stop, for the duration of the 25 minutes (move on to the next task if necessary).
3. Once the first Pomodoro (25 mins) has passed you then take a 3-5 minute break (whoop!).
4. Reset the clock and repeat points 1-3.
When you have completed four Pomodoro’s (100 mins) you would then take a longer break – typically 15-20 mins.
In each break it is down to you on how you spend it.
My recommendation would be to get up and walk around, speak to someone (ideally not about work – remember this about switching off) or go get some fresh
Your schedule may not always allow 25 minute sessions, so don’t be too hard on yourself, if you can’t follow this 100% of the time.
During your Pomodoro you may receive interruptions which are unavoidable.
Normally the interruptions will be people coming up to your desk to ask a question or to request something.
Ask how you can help and let them know you have a couple of minutes to help them – the time limit is important.
If their explanation means you can’t help them, in the two minutes you have, let them know you are in the middle of something and ask if they can drop you an e-mail with the details. If you have set up the automated response, as suggested in point four of the previous article, it will minimise the chance of them coming back and creating a further interruption.
This may feel uncomfortable but remember this is about effective use of time and achieving more than you thought was possible.
So there you have the basic steps in the Pomodoro technique.
Try it out, experiment with it and reflect on the benefits it brings.
I would love to hear from anyone that currently uses this technique, or has started to use it.
How does it help? How have others responded to you using the technique? What are the negatives to using the technique?
Now, for some coffee.
Believe and take action.