Cutting a tomato into 48 pieces

Twenty-five minutes: What can you accomplish?

The tomato method says: A lot. If you do only ONE thing – and nothing else.

Like a lot of people, I struggle to walk the fine line between multitasking and being scatter-brained. Email and social media are a constant lure, an easy way to distract us from focusing on the hard work. If you don’t manage your time, you end up at your desk many extra hours.

Productivity is particularly an issue when you run your own company – if I don’t work, I don’t get paid, and if I work inefficiently, I get paid very little.

So what’s a tomato got to do with this?

It’s actually called the Pomodoro technique, which has been around since the 1980s. The tomato connection is a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato, which apparently the inventor of this method used when he created it.

(You don’t have to buy a tomato timer. You can use any timer, or one of many apps based on the technique – or the free tomato timer page.)

The idea is that you block your time into 25-minute segments, with a five-minute break after each one. For every four Pomodoros, you take a longer break, 15 to 30 minutes.

You’re saying, “So what?” But here’s the key: You don’t do ANYTHING ELSE but your focused activity for the whole 25 minutes.

You don’t answer the phone, check your email, glance at Facebook, get a cup of coffee – no. You save those things for the breaks.

Unbroken concentration for 25 minutes accomplishes more than five 5-minute segments interrupted by 3 seconds to 3 minutes of other stuff.

Being an overachiever, I decided to slice my entire day into Pomodoros. That’s 48 in a day.

Last night I drew up my schedule for what I would do during each Pomodoro (hence my construction paper art) and each break. This is aligned with various habits that I’m working on, such as drinking eight glasses of water, studying new skills, and methodically explore my career options.

Today I got up 10 minutes early and plunged in. I managed to keep up with the schedule pretty well, but by afternoon the break seemed waaaaaaay too short.

I started feeling like tomato sauce.

Instead of helping my concentration, the Pomodoro sprints left me thinking, “What! Another segment! Wait, what am I supposed to be doing now?”

However, I was very productive today. I got a lot more done than I have been lately.

I’ll take another whack at it tomorrow. And maybe it will be diced tomatoes then. And by Friday, I hope to feel like a whole tomato again.

Day 126 is a 1988 penny, for the approximate year that the Pomodoro technique was invented.

Day 126 1988
In the shadow of the big pomodoro