No more scrolling on Twitter or Instagram -- it's time to stay focused for 25 minutes using the Pomodoro Technique!
We all have struggled with our focus and productivity, and sometimes it feels like we cannot get anything done on time.
Studies have tried to dissect the reason behind why we are distracted from our studies and tasks for the day -- is it boredom? -- but it is time for us to take charge of our focus and productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique helps its practitioners to maximise their focus and productivity within 25-minute intervals.
Then-university student Francesco Cirillo, who wanted to get more tasks done for the day, introduced the technique. He used a kitchen timer shaped like a pomodoro (tomato in Italian) to keep track of the time he spent completing his task.
Cirillo set his timer to 25 minutes and found that this method helped to improve his productivity. It also enabled him to manage and predict how long it would take to finish future tasks.
But before we get into the method, let us find out how our minds work.
For most of us, we unwind through our smartphones. The Malaysian Communications and Communications (MCMC) have collected information regarding Internet usage amongst Malaysians. Among the things discovered, there is an influx of internet users between 15 to19-years-old and 20 to 24-years-old in 2020 compared to 2018. The highest influx happened for the 20-24 age group -- 34.1% in 2020 compared to 15.6% in 2018.
But, whichever age bracket you belong to, it does not matter because you are not alone.
Our mind and focus require us to take “mini-breaks” to avoid fatigue and decreased alertness when trying to complete a task. University of Illinois’s Professor Lleras said,
“You start performing poorly on a task because you stopped paying attention to it."
But Professor Lleras cited that attention is not the problem. So, to keep the momentum going, we will need to set a goal then take breaks to relax our minds and ourselves.
Without a goal (such as finishing a task within 25 minutes), your mind will not feel motivated to complete a task, and it gives you ‘rewards’ before you can complete the task, leading to procrastination.
If you give yourself only 25 minutes and reward yourself afterwards, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and realise that you only require a suitable method to help you keep you going.
So, how do you do the Pomodoro method?
You do not need a pomodoro-shaped timer to accomplish your first 25 minutes -- all you need is a timer and avoid using your phones or mindlessly browse the Internet during the period.
That has been the easiest part of the method, it can be challenging for smartphone users and media consumers not to reach the phone and use it anyway. Furthermore, smartphones are coping tools that we find ourselves using as we try to complete repetitive tasks.
If you require extra steps to ensure that you will be in the zone, here are a few strategies that can help you give undivided attention to your tasks.
Listen to ambient sounds and wordless music
If you find it difficult to pay attention to your task due to your surroundings, why not drown it all while listening to nature sounds?
A study found that inattentive children do better when white noise is present. But this method is not a one-size-fits-all because it also found that attentive children did poorly with the presence of white noise. So, for students and parents who find this tip helpful, perhaps listening to white noise can help you refocus on your work!
If you find white noises ominous or intrusive, you can opt for ambient sounds or wordless music instead. You can mix and match the ambient sounds, giving you the feeling of being in a different environment. The lo-fi genre is gaining popularity for its calming and soft beats, an excellent substitute for classical music.
There are several free and freemium white noise, ambient sound and wordless music websites and applications available in the app stores.
After turning Noisli into a paid app, the app creator made Noizer, a free website that toggles ambient music with a click of a button. Noizer has 20 sounds that you can mix and match with the ambience of your choice. In addition, it has 3 ready-made toggles that will fit your needs.
Atmosphere is an app for iOS and Android that offers an array of ambient sounds from nature to the city to the beach. The iOS app offers the complete and free version of Atmosphere. However, the Android app would require you to purchase to access the rest of the ambient sounds.
Lofi.cafe is a free-to-listen radio station that plays soft wordless hip-hop music known as lo-fi. With aesthetically pleasing visuals to boot, the website comes with a mini Pomodoro timer that has been set for 25 minutes with 5 minutes break time.
Nightwave Plaza is another free-to-listen website that plays a collection of lo-fi and vaporwave songs. The website is easy to use, and its layout is reminiscent of Windows ‘95 with changeable backgrounds. Nightwave Plaza is also available for free on iOS and Android (freemium).
Plant trees virtually (or go cold turkey)
If you love picking up your smartphone or browsing quiz websites on your laptop, some apps are dedicated to helping you focus on your tasks by blocking social media websites or any websites of your choice during your Pomodoro session.
Forest is a Pomodoro-slash-website blocker that helps you to focus on your task while planting a tree. You can list out distracting sites you want to block (alternatively, whitelist websites that are important) and get started with your Pomodoro session! The web application is free to install, whereas cost may incur if you want to download the application on your phone instead.
Plantie and Forest share the same wholesome concept: you grow trees and fruits while finishing your task. With every check-in and successful Pomodoro, you will receive free coins that will allow you to unlock different fruit trees!
Limit helps to regulate your Internet time by allowing yourself screen time within a set period so you can focus on completing your to-do list and unwind. You can add more websites to the list and adjust the amount of time you can spend on the website. After the period ends, it will block your website and reset itself the following day.
If you want to fully absorb yourself in your task and ensure that you will face no distractions, perhaps going cold turkey will help you achieve your daily goals. Cold Turkey, apt to its name, is the stricter version of its counterparts. But, despite its strictness, it will send you a reminder so you will remember to take your well-deserved break.
Taking charge of your focus and productivity is highly important so you can work efficiently. So, no more procrastination and stressing over deadlines and try out the Pomodoro method! Let us know if you have tried this method and if it works for you; perhaps share with us your approach to focus and completing your task efficiently.
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