My interest in the Pomodoro Technique dates back to about a week before this class started, before I even knew what it was. I started following @jgmac1106 on Twitter because he was dropping information about #EDU522. On several occasions he would add tomato emojis to his posts. It didn’t appear that the tomatoes we replacing words necessarily, rather something symbolic in relation to his daily tasks. I asked a wide spectrum of people in my professional and personal network (students, techies, students, etc.) if they knew what it meant. The most logical idea someone came up with was that maybe it was a rotten tomato reference.
I decided to let it go until a post from @jgmac1106 appeared in #EDU522 with the tomato. I had to know, so I asked. To my surprise, it was a reference to a tool called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is used to help people stay task orientated, and manage time. The developer, Francesco Cirillo used a tomato shaped timer to establish intervals of work and break times to stay on task. He found this strategy so effective he titled it the Pomodoro (Italian word for tomato) Technique. Each Pomodoro includes 25 minutes on task, followed by a 5 minute break. After about 3 or 4 Pomodoros participants take a 15-20 minute break to recharge.
As someone who struggles immensely with staying focused and on task, I was intrigued by the concept. @jgmac1106 encouraged me to try it out for a week as an alternative to the “Digital Detox” project. I work with a lot of adult learners who struggle with staying on task, so not only was I interested in trying it for my own benefit, I hoped to share my experience with some of my students who might also benefit from this tool.
I made several attempts this week at utilizing the Pomodoro Technique. I’ve blogged about my individual experiences, but I will provide a general overview. To preface this, I will admit that my week was abnormal. I had intended on being in Cape Cod this week for a “semi” vacation. Over the last couple of years my husband has attended the Cape Cod Institute, which is a week long workshop series for mental health counselors. I opted to stay home this year in an attempt to not only focus on this class, but a couple of other projects I’m involved with. Among those projects, I needed to put in some office time as it related to student needs.
Not being in my traditional office setting already helped to limit my distractions. I work with quite a few colleagues who have turned into friends, which is a blessing, unless you need to work distraction free. These same people have been my biggest champions when it comes to tackling my MS of Education, so it’s unfair to pin all the distraction on them. I just had an opportunity this week to unplug; close windows, order delivery, turn appliances off; limit anything that would be a distraction. I took the opportunity to immerse myself in my projects. For this reason the Pomodoro Technique wasn’t as effective as it could have been in my traditional professional setting. I utilized the timer as task oriented time, but I found little value in taking breaks. When I was ready to break I needed more time to revamp.
I did learn that the Pomodoro Technique can be beneficial to people with ADHD. Professionals usually look to teach time management, and focus techniques to people with ADHD. I have found that many first year college students benefit from strategies that support time management. In reviewing testimonials I would agree that more times than not, people who have utilized this technique reap some benefits from it. Others argue that 25 minute time intervals are too specific, and can often discourage someone from starting a task if they have a <25 minute time frame. I am still on the fence, but I plan to continue to try this technique as I resume a more normal routine.
Helping ADHD students power through school work might not have been Francesco Cirillo's motive for creating The Pomodoro Technique. But his...
The Pomodoro Technique ”isn’t just about helping you get things done…it’s about learning how you work…”
Pomodoro Technique Day 2 Reflection:
I have been using the Pomodoro Technique all day. I wasn’t consistent with taking the breaks during the morning portion, and I didn’t cross over multiple projects the way I had planned. Part of the problem with the first 1/2 of my day was that I became engrossed with designing my website, and wanted to keep plugging along. When I did break it was just to check/respond to emails. I spent a solid 🍅🍅🍅🍅 across multiple pages of my website.
The second 1/2 of my day was a little different. I focused only on my FC101 page. I spent 🍅🍅🍅🍅 gathering my materials, and creating that page. I decided to take a bit longer break after that so I went for a run. When I returned I spent a 🍅 learning how to reformat my website across screens.
For the remainder of the evening I will be dedicating more time towards module assignments, and posts. Overall, I felt like it was a good tool for me to keep track of the time today. I need to make sure I am taking the breaks, and switching between projects more.
Pomodoro Technique Day 1 Reflection:
Today was my first day attempting to utilize the Pomodoro Technique. It wasn’t a great start, but I attribute a lot of that to the fact that my day didn’t necessarily go as planned either. I spent much more time in the office than I intended to, on projects unrelated to my 3 major projects for the week.
In addition, I am realizing that my Mac with all its cool capabilities, is quite distracting. I need to figure out how to disable all the pop up notifications that flood my screen when I am working. Most recently google started sending me notifications.
Nevertheless, I did complete a reading for Mod 4 using the tomato timer. I like how the countdown displays in the web browser. I also created my visual for the Mod 4 readings. Tomorrow I plan to structure my day much better so that I can put the Pomodoro Technique to the test.
Something that I have struggled with for the greater part of my adult life is that I am easily distracted. I believe this is because I have extremely sensitive senses. I wear sunglasses on cloudy days, because the outdoor brightness bothers my eyes. I can smell things, often minutes before other people notice. I cut tags out of my clothing. I’ll eat gorgonzola cheese, but blue cheese makes me gag. And dozens of sounds that other people don’t seem to notice, not only go right though me, but distract me. When I am trying concentrate I need total quiet. If a lawn mower starts up, I have to close the windows. I can’t focus if an air conditioner is running, or there is a load of laundry in the dryer. The littlest things can pull me out of my zone, which is difficult enough to get into in the first place.
It’s nearly impossible to limit the number of distractions that exist in my day to day world. I am an Academic Advisor under a holistic advising approach model to almost 100 students. What does that mean? Basically I serve as the “hub” to their college experience, and need to be accessible. In addition, I teach First Year Seminar every fall and spring. Most recently I added being a student into the mix. At any given time I have at least 6 different tasks going, in an environment in which I need to be accessible. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but there are definitely days that I feel I’ve spun wheels with little progress.
I am always looking for new ways to stay organized, and on task. I recently learned about the Pomodoro Technique from Dr. McVerry. I noticed that he was inserting tomato emojis into his tweets to describe his daily progress on various projects. He suggested I look into it, and sent me the tomato timer that he uses. The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity method for people like myself, who often deviate from tasks.
The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early 90s by developer, entrepeneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. (Henry, 2014)
The method is comprised of intervals of timed productivity separated by breaks. Typically it’s 25 minutes on task, followed by a 5 minute break. After about 3 or 4 “Pomodoros” you take a 15-20 minute break to recharge.
As one of my projects for EDU522, I have decided to spend a week using the Pomodoro Method. I will document my experience daily, and bookmark interesting articles I find about the Pomodoro method. I am spending most of my week outside of the office, so hopefully I will have more control over distractions. There are 3 major projects (with sub projects) that I need to complete this week. FC101 class preparation, review advisees fall schedules and progression, and finish EDU522.
Writing this introduction took 🍅🍅