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Remote Work for Professionals and Managers: The Pomodoro Technique

Okay, so what we just covered was a set of strategies for managing your collaborative dynamics with colleagues and clients.

That's the externally-facing component of this course.

We're now going to shift gears to discuss a set of techniques for mastering the more cerebral aspects of working from home.

Specifically, we'll walk you through some of the most effective ways of optimizing your mind and physical space for maximum performance.

A great place to start with a conversation about personal productivity is time management techniques.

Now, similar to making video calls, this is a topic where the internet is overflowing with resources. There are truly countless articles online chock full of time management techniques.

But the concept we discussed with setting up systems for your collaborative dynamics applies here.

The only techniques that work are the ones you use.

With that in mind, what we did is chose two time management techniques that we love, that we know work, and that we use daily.

The two we chose are the Pomodoro Technique and the Time Blocking technique.

So let's begin with the Pomodoro Technique.

This was a technique that was developed by a successful management consultant in the 1980's

The technique falls into the category of simple and effective, yet strangely difficult to execute. But it's so effective that it's very much worth your time getting good at.

The way it works is that you take a task or group of tasks, of any length, and break it all into 30-minute intervals.

For the first 25 minutes of that interval, you do nothing but work on the task, with zero distractions.

For the final 5 minutes, you do anything other than work on the task.

So that's it: 25 minutes of work, 5-minute break, 25 on, 5 off, rinse and repeat.

Now the hardest part of this technique, by far, is taking that 5-minute break.

And the reason is that once you get into the groove of things, it's really difficult to pry yourself away from that task.

You start to tell yourself things like "Oh, I'll wait until there's a more natural pause, or I'll skip this break and take 10 minutes at the 1-hour mark".

And to do so would be a big mistake.

Because what works so well about this technique is that it forces you to interrupt your train of thought.

That might seem disruptive, but the benefit of giving your mind a rest far outweighs that disruption.

And by stopping right in the middle of things, it makes it that much easier to jump right back in when the break is up.

Professional writers actually use this same technique when they're writing their content.

They often stop in the middle of a paragraph, or even a sentence, to eat a meal, or even go to sleep, knowing that when they get back to whatever it is they were writing, they'll be able to slip immediately back into their groove, so it ends up saving them a bunch of time warming up their mind and building momentum.

This same concept applies to the Pomodoro technique.

It is precisely by interrupting your train of thought that you are able to dive right back into whatever it is you are doing.

The more engaged you are with your task, the more effective this will be.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of apps dedicated to the Pomodoro technique that you can use to make sure you don't forget to take that 5-minute break when it comes, so check those out. But you can also just set a timer for 25 minutes and reset it after your break.

Now when you are taking your break, it is critical that you get up and stretch your legs. Try taking a walk around the room or whatever space you are in.

If you don't much space, roll your shoulders in circles, shake out your hands, and do some air squats.

The reason for this physical activity is that you need to get fresh blood and oxygen flowing to your brain.

Research shows our IQ and cognitive functions are much stronger when our brain has the oxygen it needs.

Also, assuming you are looking at a screen, during your break it is very important to look away from that screen.

This ensures your eyes get a rest because prolonged exposure to screens can strain your eyes and cause your vision to blur – not great things for productivity.

Now the Pomodoro technique is very effective for long, beefy tasks, or a high volume of time-sensitive tasks that need to get done quickly.

By building in those mandatory breaks, you ensure your brain gets a rest and you'd be amazed at how you can crush even the burliest of workloads without experiencing burn-out.

Again the key here is that you take those breaks – if you don't, this won't work.


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