Pour Some Productivity Rich Tomato Sauce All Over Your Sloppy Schedule

How the pomodoro time-management technique can boost both your productivity and free time!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

Papa Tomato, Mama Tomato and Toddler Tomato were all walking down the street...

...until, poor Toddler Tomato started to lag behind...

...and much to Mama Tomato’s horror, frustrated Papa Tomato ran back to little, tiny Toddler Tomato, smacked him over the head and said:

KETCHUP!”

There’s A Point To This Intro...I PROMISE!

Now, I admit, that’s a pretty awful joke for several reasons (tomato child abuse being at the top of the list)...

More...

...but also also because, now, you just realized that I wasted a precious minute of your very valuable time. YIKES!

My apologies for that, but I just needed to get your attention so I could tell you about another, much more awesome tomato sauce story that will actually save you countless hours of non-productive time from here on out!

And don't worry, this tale of red skinned nightshades won’t be sadistic or punny either…

Instead, it’s jam packed with the productivity nutrients you need to become the kind of disciplined, self-driven BADASS that consistently GETS SHIT DONE!

Who’s This Awesome Tomato Productivity Sauce For?

Perhaps you’re a writer looking to launch a blog or get serious about turning that book idea into a Amazon.com reality.

Maybe you’re a small business owner or freelancer with several clients that all compete loudly for your limited time. The push and pull of their needs, desires and last minute requests always seems to distract you from completing individual jobs as fast as you’d like.

You might even be a lawyer, engineer or programer who frequently deals with several, simultaneous projects which, let's face it, jacks up the amount of time it takes you to complete each one.

The Tomato Timer Method

Well, thankfully, there’s an effective time-management solution you can learn to combat your increasingly hectic work life:

It’s called The Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro means tomato in Italian).

Basically, a pomodoro is a 30 minute block of time broken down into two parts:

  • A 25 minute chunk of focused time used to work on completing a single, defined task followed by...
  • A 5 minute, mentally relaxing break (ideally paired with a little physical movement like a walking to get a cup of coffee or having a quick stretch).

After every four pomodoros, you take a longer 15 to 30 minute break.

Sounds simple, right?

Do Pomodoros Really Work Or Are You Full Of Rotten Tomatoes?​

Well, to give you an idea of the tomato timer's impact on my own innate drift towards idleness, I started using this method last April when I moved to Budapest to become a self-driven and self-accountable, productivity focused digital nomad.

It transformed me from an location independent lifestyle dreamer to a paid, freelance writing vagabond!

The Pomodoro Technique was a total game changer for me, not only because it boosted my productivity each day, but it also:

  • Helped me become an effective goal and task planner.

  • Honed my ability to estimate how long it would take to complete different, mission critical tasks.

  • Forced me to take frequent physical and mental breaks from taxing work I was focused on.

Also, the method offers cumulative benefits as your small, but frequent daily wins start to compound over time building both psychological confidence and tangible results.

Because you must focus on getting each task done within a 25 minute window, you’re constantly forced to reevaluate if you’re following the powerful Pareto Principle. You keep asking yourself:

"Is what I'm currently working on a 20% activity that will contribute to the 80% of my desired results?"

In this way, the Pomodoro technique keeps you driving towards your big goals with minimal wasted time and effort.

​How To Set Your Own Tomato Timer

To implement a tomato timer into your work schedule, simply do the following:

  1. Break your goals and deliverables down into units that can be completed in 25 minutes sessions.

  2. Group tasks into blocks of 4 pomodoros (remember that 1 pomodoro = 25 minutes of focused work to complete a single taske followed by a 5 minute break). Write down what each pomodoro task will be in a notebook.

  3. If you get distracted by a thought, idea, phone call, or email, just write a note about it down in your notebook to address it later during a break or after your scheduled work hours have been completed.

  4. Cross out each task as you complete them.

  5. Take a 15 to 30 minute break after each block of 4 pomodoros.

  6. Evaluate your work results to see if you can:

    • Better estimate the number of pomodoros it takes to complete certain tasks.

    • More effectively plan your work days, work weeks and long term projects.

    • Improve the quality of your work.

    • Improve the retention and recall of information you learned during a pomodoro.

Analog or Digital Pomodoro Tracking?

Tracking your pomodoro tasks becomes an incredible dataset you can use to evaluate your progress in each focus area of your work. It can help to highlight where you’re struggling to break down and plan projects effectively for optimized delivery.

I use 3 pomodoro tracking methods simultaneously to help keep my tomato productivity nice and ripe:
  1. Paper Notebook Tracking Method:

    Pen and paper is essential to the pomodoro method as writing out your daily tasks will help you prepare for what you should be focused on each day.

    It also gives you the physical satisfaction of crossing things off your list while providing a handy white page to quickly jot down ideas or distractions that appear throughout the day.

    Having a notebook handy will help record your good ideas and then get your focus back to completing the scheduled task ASAP.​ 
  2. Google Calendar Tracking Method:

    I created a weekly pomodoro schedule template in Google Calendar to help myself plan out a rough sketch every week, and this is important, each Friday afternoon (at the end of the workweek).

    This tactic allows me to flexibly plan out my following week, let my subconscious process it over my relaxing weekend doing something else, and return to coffeeshop workspace on Monday ready to jump right back into mission critical, 80/20 tasks.

    If I need to make changes to my daily schedules, I then update the planned Google Calendar pomodoro sessions each day with my actual activities to keep as a digital record of what I did. 
  3. Desktop and iPhone Apps:

    I purchased a desktop and mobile Pomodoro pair of apps that sync with each other and act as my digital pomodoro timers (and buzzers!) while I work. 

    You can also define and track specific categories of work with the app pair as another way to evaluate how you're using your pomodoros.

    The apps I use are called Be Focused Pro and must be purchased separately for Mac and iPhone/iPad (an affordable $1.99 for the Mac desktop app and $1.99 for iPhone/iPad app I'd say...).

    What made me pull the trigger on purchasing this app pair was the sync feature.

    It allows me to work on my desktop, then walk away with my iPhone in hand to grab coffee during my break, all the while still keeping an eye on when I need to be back at my Macbook to start the next Pomodoro.

Look, whatever method you decide to track your pomodoros with, just make sure that you record them because:

“What gets measured gets managed.” -Peter Drucker

It’s Time To Work...Smarter!

I hope this gourmet tomato awesome sauce helps boost your productivity like it did for me!

I’d really like to hear about your own experience with The Pomodoro Technique if you’ve ever used it before or plan to give it a try. Leave a comment below to let me know how you got on with it!

But now, if you’ll excuse me, a tomato just buzzed in my face so I guess it’s time to get up and take a break!

P.S. If you liked this post about the Tomato Timer, check out my other posts on productivity hacks herehere and here!

P.P.S. While you're here, please consider signing up for my email list so I can send you future posts about my life as a Modern (m+An)imal!

About the Author Matt

Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital minimalist. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a high-tech, hunter-gatherer lifestyle within our exceedingly domesticated world. When away from his tech, you can find him studying complex human movement through random play or practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.

  • Mark says:

    I just barely found your site (linked from Thrive Themes). I am excited to see you are addressing all sorts of topics that I am interested in, including the Pomodoro technique, which I have used often in the past and want to hit myself for not using ALL THE TIME. You have a great writing style, a nice blend of humor, practicality, and intelligence. Thanks for sharing this and other useful information.
    P.S. I hadn’t heard the joke (somehow!), but I really like it. (Can’t wait to tell it to my kids this evening!)

    • Matt Totten says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words Mark!

      The Pomodoro Technique has really become a solid work strategy for me too. At the very least it keeps me moving all day which is invaluable.

      I’m really glad that you found the article both useful and entertaining…I’ll try to deliver some more interesting and helpful subjects very soon!

      And best of luck using the ol’ ketchup gag on your kids tonight!

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