After spending much of my time this morning sifting through my inbox, I realized that it took me way too much time. I’ve got a full week’s worth of “to dos” and to use more than one hour on email seems like poor use of time.
I reminded myself (after the fact) about the Pomordoro Technique. The Pomordoro Technique is a system of time management. There’s a lot to it, but the basic system is this: You choose a task (such as “replying to my emails”) and then you set a timer for an appropriate amount of time (such as 30 minutes). You work on that task until the timer goes off, and then you take a break (about 3-5 minutes).
I tend to use the system a little differently (when I remember to use it). I will set the timer for a slightly shorter amount of time than I think I need (maybe 20 minutes instead of 30) and then work hard at that task to try and finish it by the time my timer goes off (I use a free app on my Mac called “Timey.”). Then, instead of taking a break, I’ll reward myself by reading for 3-5 minutes or doing something else I enjoy, but that keeps me productive. Then, I’m ready to move on to the next task.
I don’t use this technique for all my work tasks (which is why I sometimes forget about it), but it is great for simple tasks like email and other things. It plays into another time management principle (known as Parkinson’s Law) that work will expand to fill the amount of time you give it. So, if you allow over an hour for email, then it will take you that long to finish it. If you set a timer and allow only a limited time to complete simple tasks, then you might be surprised how much you can get done in a shorter amount of time.
What about you? Do you have experience with these techniques?
What works well for you? What doesn’t?