In the previous two articles in this series we began exploring how we can overcome the almost universal issue of those moments when our motivation isn’t what it needs to be. Here we are going to add to our repertoire of motivation boosters by learning about the Pomodoro Technique, first described by Francesco Cirrilo in the 1980’s, and its applications.
Pomodoro is Italian for tomato and the name is taken, we believe, from a former trend for kitchen timers shaped for the fruit, as the method to be discussed requires a timer of some sort. These days you must feel free to use any method you wish for the timing, although many prefer the ‘traditional’ use of low tech methods and it has been said that a ticking timer adds to the motivational elements, so do experiment. Most mobile phones these days have countdown timers on them with an audible alarm when the requisite time has been counted down and these go with us everywhere so might provide a convenient alternative to a big red tomato.
The classic use of Pomodoro is to work on your task for a chosen amount of time, usually about 25 minutes without responding to any distractions or time drains such as answering the phone, reading emails or web surfing. Make sure the TV is switched off and a do not disturb sign is hanging on the door. Set your phone to silent and then, before starting, set up the task. Let’s look at this a little further. Setting up the task is a vital part of setting ourselves up for success, as we will want to do everything in our power to squeeze the most of our efforts. So if we are writing an assignment we want the computer booted up, the relevant file active and the books open to the right pages. If we are doing a DIY task we will want to be in our old clothes, the tools on hand and the materials in a convenient location. And then we can begin.
With the task fully set up we set our timer for 25 minutes and crack on without stopping. It isn’t unusual for people to find that they experience a boost to their motivation whilst setting up the task and if not then but immediately after beginning the job, thereby making the 25 minutes fly by. And continue until the buzzer sounds and then stop dead. Our advice is not to carry on even if you are mid sentence in your writings or mid stripping if you are taking old wallpaper of a wall. If the situation isn’t dangerous to leave then stop! And here we take a break for ten minutes. Put the kettle on, pour a coffee or walk outside for bit of fresh air. If we are a little frustrated by leaving the job hanging we will be even more motivated to go back to it once our break is over and again experience a motivation boost when we resume. When our ten minutes is over we reset our timer for another 25 minutes and go at it again. And repeat. Four times. This way we quickly add up 100 minutes of highly focused, massively motivated effort without dips in mood or a sagging spirit of endeavor. Boredom doesn’t get a look in and we reflect happily on a satisfying achievement. Self-esteem gets a boost as we see a new level of potential for our future selves.
Sometimes, in the 10 minute slots, you might check your emails or texts and if you can answer in the mini break then feel free to do so. If you cannot, then make a note of it in your chosen to-do list and file it as a task for a later time.
But how can this help us to lose weight? Here at Waetugo we advise that for weight loss we have to focus on diet but we do see exercise as an essential part in building and maintaining excellent health as well as motivating us to keep a healthy diet going – no point in eating junk food after chiseling those abs or firming those glutes! So we might use our Pomodoro in the gym or when out walking. We might set our timer for 25 minutes and then get going on the treadmill. We might not be able to run at top speed for this length of time but if the Pomodoro hasn’t buzzed when we get out of breath then we carry on until it does even if we have to slow right down to a slow jog or a walk. We might play badminton or tennis, not until the game is won but until the buzzer has sounded or swim lengths for our time frame instead of doing a set number. If the gym isn’t for you, then the dog might get walked for longer or the kids (grandkids) played with for 25 minutes at a time at which point you get to sit down and smell the flowers for ten before going again. Whatever your choice of activity you begin to get 100 minutes of increased activity into each day.
Other uses of Pomodoro include the 10 minute technique. The 10 minute technique works especially well if you really cannot get started. Here we challenge ourselves to work on a task for ten minutes and no more. So again, set the job up but this time, set the timer for 10 minutes and challenge yourself to get something done in this time period. Again, we usually find that our motivation gets a shot in the arm and 10 minutes goes by so fast we feel silly stopping. It’s up to you. Stop for a break having learned that no matter how demotivated you feel 10 minutes is an easy start or carry on for another 15 minutes.
Like much of what you read here at Waetugo we prefer you to take a flexible approach to the technique(s) and experiment with them. As long as you aren’t building excuses into your use of them then make them work for you. If something you try doesn’t work, change it. And of course share your findings and achievements here with your journal entry.