The Best Productivity Hack I've Found

The world is awash in productivity hacks, and I've tried many of them. But the one that stands out as making a significant difference in a short period of time is this:

Use a pomodoro timer.

What it is: Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. This technique is named after the tomato shaped kitchen timer the developer of the concept first used to track time spent on a task. Now, there's a bevy of apps that replicate this, but the humble stopwatch works just fine.

How it works:

  1. Determine the task you'll accomplish next. This is the most important step. The power of the pomodoro is the promise you make to yourself that you'll monotask until the timer goes off. Pick one thing. For me, right now, it's writing this post.

  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes and then get to work. I find it helpful to put my phone in airplane mode and close my email. If you feel distracted, remind yourself you'll get a break when the timer goes off.

  3. Take a short break of 3 to 5 minutes when the timer goes off. It's important this break is also timed. If you're at the computer, stand up, stretch, take a quick walk. Check your various accounts if needed. When the timer for the break goes off, reset the 25 minute timer and get back to work.

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for four cycles total.

  5. At the end of four 25 / 5 cycles, take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes).

Why it Works

Greg McKeown makes the most convincing argument for avoiding multitasking I've encountered. Your energy and attention is limited, so how are going to spend it?

The Pomodoro Timer is a simple technique to focusing your energy towards a meaningful goal.


Recent Posts

See All

Two Ways to Get More out of Your Team

Being able to get the most out of your team is a helpful skill as a leader. And one way to get the most out of your team is to identify the behaviors you want more of, and ask for more of them. You ca

Making the Most of a Bad Situation

My neighbor drives a red Audi hatchback with a bumper sticker that reads: Existence is pain. I chuckle every time I drive past it. I don't share such a nihilistic perspective, but it's worth rememberi

The Fiddleleaf Fig Tree Parable

A while back, while wandering through Costco, I noticed a fiddleleaf fig tree. Somewhere between the hard-shell kayaks and hardcover book table was this towering giant of a plant. Possessing poor judg