Time is money, especially in the world of freelance. Learn a new strategy to maximizing your efficiency while working, while at the same time giving yourself regular breaks. Getting things done in an office environment isn’t always rewarding. As a freelancer, that’s not the case.
As a freelancer, productivity is probably something you spend a lot of time thinking about. And it’s easy to see why. You work on your own time – that means that productivity has an almost 100 percent correlation with how much money you earn.
One of the most popular techniques for increasing productivity is the Pomodoro Technique. I have personally used it in the past and am doing so as I’m writing this piece.
In this article, I’ll tell you what the technique entails, where its strengths and weaknesses lie and how you can integrate it into your daily life to increase how much you get done.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
The Pomodoro technique was actually first developed as a time management method in the late 1980s. In the past ten years or so, it has gained a lot of traction, especially among freelancers and other people who work on their own time. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato – the technique originally started with kitchen timers shaped like a tomato.
Here are the basics: You pick a task and set the Pomodoro timer. One Pomodoro is traditionally 25 minutes long. During that time, you are meant to focus on the task you picked and on that task alone. Once it is over, you take a break – usually 5 minutes long. After you’ve finished four Pomodoros, you take a longer break, which can be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse and repeat.
What is this technique good for?
- People who are easily side-tracked
If you are someone who struggles with self-motivation and discipline, the Pomodoro technique is exactly for you. It puts you into a certain mindset. You have sat down, are ready to do some work and have turned the timer on. You have made a deal with yourself that you’re going to work for a certain amount of time before taking a break. It mind sound simple, but having the clock ticking really helps you concentrate and get stuff done.
- Work that can be split into neat chunks
If you like splitting bigger tasks into smaller ones and checking off to-do-lists (here are 6 ways to upgrade a to-do list to get more done), you’ll like working with a Pomodoro timer. Some work is really great for that. That includes answering emails, writing proposals, writing small articles, doing some detail work on a website or any bigger project that can be easily split into smaller steps. Freelancers have a lot of tasks that are like this. In such situations, Pomodoro is very useful.
- Consistent time-tracking
Tracking your time is something any freelancer should do. It helps you analyze your working process. When you track your time, you know what kinds of things you spend your time on – there might be some nasty surprises there, but time-tracking will help you fix them. Furthermore, you’ll see how much you’re really working. There are a lot of ways to track your time, but Pomodoro is something that really works for me and can work for you, too!
What is the Pomodoro method bad for?
- People who get distracted and multitask
Distractions are often viewed as a bad thing, but that’s not necessarily true. If you’re someone who does a lot of multitasking, like constantly having to check and answer emails while working, Pomodoro might not be for you. You’ll be constantly jumping back and forth and having the breaks interrupt you, which can get really annoying.
- Work that requires a lot of time to get into
Let’s say you’re doing something that is consistently very difficult, like building a website, writing code, or reading a scientific paper. Those tasks take some time to get into. As such, taking a break every 25 minutes can be counter-productive. That kind of work isn’t really suited to the Pomodoro technique, I’ve found.
- Powering through right before a deadline
Sometimes, you just have to work a lot. Regardless whether or not you’re motivated, there are those days where you just have to power through a lot of things in one sitting. That’s not healthy, but it’s unfortunately the reality sometimes. In those cases, you’ll skip a lot of Pomodoro breaks and possibly defeat the whole purpose of the technique.
Advanced tips: How to make the technique work for you
- Make your Pomodoros last longer
One of the most obvious ways of tailoring Pomodoro to your own work is to switch up the times. I personally work in 45 minute chunks with 10 minute breaks in-between. A five minute break is just not enough for me to go to the toilet and get a coffee at the same time. And a work session of 25 minutes falls just a bit too short. Don’t be afraid to tweak that a bit to find what suits you best.
- Ignoring the timer is a necessary, but slippery slope
Last but not least, even when using Pomodoro, you won’t be able to do it 100 percent of the time. Sometimes, you’re just finishing up your work. You need ten more minutes, but the session is over. Or you’re on a lunch break and haven’t finished, but the break time is up. In those cases, you will have to ignore the timer. Be careful, however, not to turn this into a habit. If you’re not consistently finishing at least a couple of hours daily by using the Pomodoro technique, it defeats the purpose.
Have you ever used the Pomodoro Technique? Tell us what you think about it in the comments below!