How to end procrastination with the Pomodoro technique

photo credit: Procrastination - A1 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Procrastination - A1 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Procrastination – A1 via photopin (license)

Have you ever needed to do something — something important, perhaps even urgent, but you have found yourself avoiding the task at hand in favour of something — anything — else?

I have. Too often. In fact now seems a good time to confess to the world — my name is Richard and I’m a procrastinator of the highest order.

There! It’s done! It’s out there. I’d put that admission off for long enough (a little procrastination joke there). Joking aside, I know I’m not alone in being a procrastinator. In my day-to-day work with business owners, the most common challenge I hear from people trying to achieve tasks is simply getting started.

So why is it so difficult to get started?

The Resistance to getting started

Do The Work by Steven PressfieldIn his fabulous manifesto “Do the Work” — which I recommend everyone read — the author Steven Pressfield tackles the idea that many of us absolutely want to do the work that matters, but don’t know where to start. So we don’t start at all. Pressfield names this roadblock “the Resistance” and calls it the enemy of doing great work.

I hit the Resistance every single day. When I need to write blog posts. When I need to make telephone calls. Even when I need to write a simple email. Just getting started can seem a maddening massive obstacle to overcome.

Given the amount of writing I do on this blog alone, you might find it difficult to believe that I struggle in this way. I assure you that I do. I struggle to get started doing most things that I consider important, yet those important things do get done thanks to a really simple technique I use to get me started.

The method I use to consistently get me started on the work that needs doing is the Pomodoro technique.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

Pomodoro
photo credit: Tomatoes #1 via photopin (license)

The Pomodoro technique was taught to me by productivity expert Grace Marshall when I explained to Grace my difficulty getting started on important work.

Grace explained to me that the Pomodoro uses a timer to break down work into blocks of 25 minutes. These intervals are known as “pomodori” from the Italian for tomato (think slices of a Tomato) and if you’re struggling to get started on something, the Pomodoro technique can help.

To get started with the Pomodoro technique:-

  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  2. Start the timer.
  3. Work for 25 minutes until the timer rings.
  4. Take a short break.
  5. Repeat.

Doesn’t seem that revolutionary does it? Yet despite this, I find the mere act of setting a timer for 25 minutes helps me get started on work I’d otherwise procrastinate over. After all, however busy you are, who can’t find 25 minutes to get started on something?[tweet_box design=”default”]”Setting a timer for 25 mins helps me get started on work I’d otherwise procrastinate over” [/tweet_box]

The interesting thing is, quite often the 25-minute timer will elapse and I’ll be in my flow with the work — I’ll ignore the timer and decide to press on and get the work finished anyway. That same work that 25 minutes earlier I couldn’t even seem to get started on. Powerful.

[email protected]

Focus@WillFor myself, I’ve built the website [email protected] into my Pomodoro routine. [email protected] is awebsitee that has its own Pomodoro timer built in, as well as playing background music that helps you concentrate, and I find the combination of that music and the Pomodoro technique aid me in getting started on important work.

Improve your Concentration

If you are easily distracted then keeping focused on the task at hand once you have actually started it can be a challenge. Helen Sanders of Health Ambition has written a very comprehensive blog  How to Improve Concentration and Focus in Your Life which sets out 7 great ways to help you improve your concentration.

Conclusion

Do you procrastinate? Do you struggle to get started on important work? You’re not alone.

The act of getting started, the Resistance, can be paralysing to your productivity. Stop and think, right now, about what important work have you been putting off that if you’d simply made a start on then you’d feel a whole lot better about.

The Pomodoro technique of setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing on the job at hand may be your way of overcoming the Resistance and getting started on that important work.

Try the Pomodoro technique — after all, I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator and it helped me write this blog post!

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