You probably won't fall off your chair to learn that my ADHD affects my productivity levels. I have searched near and far for ways to overcome this constant battle with my executive functioning skills. So when I finally found something that worked, you can imagine my pure excitement!
I have read probably close too a billion books on managing ADHD – some are more helpful than others. I won’t lie and say I have tried and tested all the recommended techniques. But I have tried a few, and my absolute favorite time management tool is the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by expert Francesco Cirillo. The technique has you use a timer to break down your work into sessions – usually 25 minutes each. Each session is separated by short or long breaks. These intervals are called “pomodoros”. Pomodoro actually means tomato in Italian, which makes absolutely no sense – until you learn that Cirillo used a tomato shaped kitchen timer when he was in college.
You don’t have to – but I recommend that you give it spin. For me, starting any task can overwhelm me before I even start. Just the thought of being stuck in front of my computer writing a blog post or optimizing my website for hours can seem like a death sentence. And so I might opt out completely and go back to bed, procrastinating till the next day. Or the next.
But, with Pomodoro timer technique I really have no excuse. I tell myself that I just have to get through the first 25-minute session and then I can stop working if the task at hand is still proving to be absolutely suffocating. But funny thing is that once I start the task and shift my focus I quickly get into “the zone” and actually wind up enjoying the work I have to do. As each session progresses I get more and more stuff done – feeling the satisfactory rush of getting to check things off my to-do list.
The Pomodoro timer helps alleviate my ADHD symptoms by utilizing the following methodologies:
Planning tasks: You adhere to a ‘to-do’ list, which functions as a schedule making sure that you use your pomodoro’s efficiently.
Task completion: Once the timer begins, you are in work mode. Time will fly by and you will see how much you can get done in a short amount of time!
Limits distractions: During a timed session, you focus on one thing only. I put my phone on silent and ignore/ close other applications on my computer. Laser-like focus.
Motivation: The instant reward I receive from completing the initial task motivates me to keep going, and in some cases, can drive me to take on larger and/or more difficult projects.
Project Management: The Pomodoro timer technique forces your ADHD brain to break projects down into smaller, more manageable tasks that can be done in 25-minute sessions, giving you great perspective – something I know I lack.
Goal setting: By setting your own goals, however large or small, you can start to gauge realistically how much work you can accomplish in 25 minutes. This will help hone your goal-setting skills, as well as provide you with a standard that will help you better understand how long it will take you personally to finish certain projects.
The original Pomodoro Technique consists of six steps:
1. Decide which task you’re going to tackle first.
2. Start your timer. (25 minutes)
3. Work on task for the WHOLE 25 minutes.
4. Stop when the timer goes off and draw a checkmark on a piece of paper.
5. If have less than four checkmarks, take a shorter break (anywhere from 3-5 minutes) and then reset the timer and start again from step two.
6. Once you reach four checkmarks, take a longer break (anywhere from 15-30 minutes) and then reset your checkmarks to zero and start again from step one.
I mastered the pomodoro technique pretty quickly, and I felt I got a lot more work done, even the first day I tried it. And, over time, I have gotten even better at using the method. My ability to prioritize certain tasks and break down projects has improved immensely.
So what do you think, are you willing to give the Pomodoro Timer a go? Or are you already using it? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!