The power of small bursts
Updated: May 3, 2021
Recognise any of these?
- Feeling stiff because you're not moving enough during the day
- Tired eyes from Zoom and Teams calls
- Tense shoulders
- Easily distracted even though have a mountain of work
- Often not knowing where to start
- Shoulders that feel like lumps of concrete
- Putting things off
Give the Pomodoro Technique a try. A 25-minute Pomodoro session is just long enough to get a little work done but not so long that it feels difficult overwhelming.
Pick one project or task you want to focus on
Set a timer for 25-30 minutes
When the timer sounds, take a 2-3 minute break. You can use this to stretch, walk about, listen to a song, or grab a few minutes of fresh air
After four sessions, take a longer break.
Make sure you don't 'break' the Pomodoro. There is no pausing to check incoming emails, engage in team chats or respond to an interesting gif. Come back to these later.
The technique is great for breaking down more complex tasks. If a task requires more than four Pomodoros, you can divide it into smaller, actionable steps. Sticking to this rule will help ensure you make clear progress on your projects.
You might have lots of small tasks such as: booking appointments; checking bills; answering some short email queries etc. Any tasks that will take less than one Pomodoro can be combined with other simple tasks.
The Pomodoro is great it you are caught up in an avoidance cycle and uncertain of where to start with a piece of work. The idea of making an initial small 25 minute step seems so much more achievable than starting a large project. Rather than thinking about the 'large project', you are now focused on taking it one Pomodoro at a time.
Those small work interruptions add up! Email notifications. Text messages. Team chat. Not only can they distract us, but it also takes time and energy to then refocus our attention. Our minds can linger over the previous task for upwards of 20 minutes until regaining full concentration. The simple pleasure of quickly checking Twitter or Instagram "just for a minute" can turn into 20 minutes of trying to get back on task.
The Pomodoro Technique is a great opportunity to get creative:
Keep a list of all the things you could do in your short breaks i.e. stretch, star jumps, mindfulness activity, listen to the birds. Choose one at random each time you have a break so that you don't know what's coming.
Engage family members. Why not do some Pomodoros and have breaks at the same time? Put the kids in charge of what you do in your breaks ...... if you dare!
Get an energising soundtrack. listen some energetic tunes when you take your breaks.
Use the Pomodoro Technique to encourage short burst of family cleaning! I have found that the kids are far more likely to help out if I offer up the activity in smaller energetic bursts! It can get quite competitive!
Finally, you could also consider some form of reward system for yourself (and others ..) for engaging in a number of Pomodoros. How about cake?