Time management is a necessary skill for writers and many of them have their own techniques that help them with this objective. Among them, the Pomodoro Technique for writing is a unique time management method, which is widely practiced. It’s an easy, simple technique that is not difficult to implement or follow through.
You’ll be happy to know that applying the Pomodoro technique for writing is fairly easy. This is a very flexible technique which can be used to accomplish different tasks throughout the day.
Francesco Crillo – The Father of the Pomodoro Technique
It was introduced in the 1980’s by Francesco Crillo. All you have to do is use a timer, usually a kitchen timer to work for intervals of 25 minutes. These intervals are known as Pomodoro or Pomodori.
Fun fact: Pomodoro is also the Italian word for Tomato, and Crillo used a tomato shaped kitchen timer for this technique!
Interestingly, Crillo conducted his own research and found that people are more productive when they work at intervals of 25 minutes with small breaks throughout the day. He used the technique himself during his college life. It wasn’t until 1998 that he started to market the technique to others.
Due to its simplicity, it was readily accepted and did produce tangible results. Today, there are many modern variations of this time management technique but the Pomodoro technique remains a favorite out of them all.
The Three Core Stages in the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is very simple and has three core stages in it that you have to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them so that you’re not confused when you’re actually applying the Pomodoro technique for writing.
These different stages will help you complete your writing tasks with ease.
Stage 1: Planning
This relates to the start of your day when you’re creating your “To-Do” list which contains all the work activities you need to accomplish. When you’re listing down the tasks, take some time to also make an “Activity Inventory.”
In this list, you will break down the tasks based on how many Pomodori you will need to accomplish it.
For example: Edit a document – 2 Pomodori
Remember that 1 Pomodoro is equal to 25 minutes. So, 2 will be equal to 50 minutes, 7 will be equal to just under 3 hours (excluding breaks). This will help in allotting proper time and having a more realistic expectation from the process as well.
Stage 2: Tracking
This is another step that occurs throughout the day when you’re applying the Pomodoro technique for writing. You have to mark the end of each interval on a sheet and once you have finished a task, you cross it out and move on to the next one.
This is an exceptionally useful thing as it gives you a sense of accomplishment throughout the day. You will not only feel more productive but will actually have tangible proof of it, right in front of you.
Stage 3: Recording
This process relates to recording and reviewing the progress you made at the end of the day. You can take a look at how much work was done, which areas need to be improved and what you didn’t get done.
This will also highlight if you need to make some major changes in your routine in order to boost productivity.
How the Pomodoro Technique Works
After understanding the core the stages, you will understand just how the Pomodoro technique works for writing or any other task at hand. Commonly, this technique is suited for writers because they are more likely to have deadline based work which makes timely work submission a must for them.
But, there’s no hard and fast rule here. It is a technique which can be applied to any task you need to accomplish. When taking a closer look at the Pomodoro technique, you will find that it works with 6 major steps.
Each step is important to follow through with and you will see that it really is quite simple:
Step 1: Pick a Task
Pick one task, from your “To-Do List” that you need to finish. It doesn’t matter if the task is big or small, simple or complicated. If you are picking it, it means that you will be giving your undivided attention to this task.
As a rule of thumb though, important tasks that are high priority need to be finished first.
Step 2: Set the Timer for the Pomodoro
Now, once you have the task in hand, all you have to do is set the timer for 25 minutes. For newbies, it is a good idea to give a small oath as well. Just tell yourself that, “I will not be distracted. I will spend 25 minutes on this task.”
It’s a good idea to switch your phone on silent, get rid of distractions to ensure that you can focus properly.
Step 3: Work on the Chosen Task
After making the intention and setting the timer, focus intently on the task at hand for the next 25 minutes. If you realize there is another important task that needs to be accomplished, just write it down on a piece of paper.
Don’t stop working on the task that you have picked until your 25 minutes are up and the Pomodorois finished.
Step 4: Putting a Checkmark
At 25 minutes, the timer will go signifying that it is time for you to take a break. To do this, just put a small checkmark on a piece of paper. This will show you that you’ve worked without distractions for 25 minutes on your task!
It’s a good idea to keep a separate sheet for your checkmarks.
Step 5: Enjoy a Short Break
After putting the checkmark, it’s time to enjoy a short break. Your break should only last for 3 to 5 minutes. Once those 5 minutes are up, it’s time to re-set the timer to another 25 minutes and start working on the task.
You can continue to do this until the task is finished or, you are at the end of your Pomodoro!
Step 6: Reward Yourself after 4 Pomodori
Now, look at the checkmarks on your piece of paper. If you have successfully finished 4 Pomodori, you can then enjoy a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to brew a cup of tea or coffee and consider what task you need to pursue next.
Before you start working on the new task, or if you have finished 4 Pomodori, start marking your Pomodoro progress from scratch. This means that you will have to finish another 4 to take a longer break again.
Applying the Pomodoro Technique for Writing
Once you’re clear on the core stages and the steps of the Pomodoro technique, it’s time to start applying it to your writing. For beginners, this can be a bit confusing so we have taken the time to highlight just how you can use the Pomodoro technique for writing:
Plan out the work you need to accomplish in your “To Do” list and your “Activity Inventory”. Try to be as detailed about the task as possible. So, instead of saying Edit a Document, you should note down Edit a 1000 word document – 2 Pomodori. This gives you more focus and more understanding of what the task is.
Now, all you have to do is start the timer, setting it to 25 minutes and working without any interruptions. Once this is done, enjoy a 5 minute break. During your breaks, you must not watch any TV, call anyone or even check your emails. Tasks which can be too distracting should not be indulged in at this time.
Make sure to note down tasks which you feel are urgent but are also distractions to your writing process. You can later give them their own Pomodori as well. For example: Checking the email before you start writing can be done in 1 Pomodoro.
In this manner, you will have more control on your writing process and be able to ensure that you have some much needed, uninterrupted time for your writing.
The Don’ts of the Pomodoro Technique for Writing
While the Pomodoro technique for writing is pretty simple, there are some rules and regulations that you must adhere to when you’re using it. The following are some of the major ones that you cannot change at all:
Don’t Add More Time
Each Pomodoro is made up of 25 minutes only. You cannot add more time to it and you’re usually encouraged not to. This is because Crillo conducted research which highlighted that maximum productivity is achieved by working intensely for 25 minutes with a small break of 3 to 5 minutes.
Adding more time to the Pomodoro will go against the core concept of the technique and you might not see the results you were hoping to.
Always Stop After 25 Minutes
It doesn’t matter how you were writing up a storm or in the zone, when the 25 minutes are up, you have to stop, note it down and take a small break of 3 to 5 minutes. In this break, you can access the progress you have made, refresh your mind and also ensure that you’re staying focused on the major areas of your writing.
Don’t power through without stopping. This is again something that goes against the core of the technique and will end up giving you different results.
Moving On to the Next Activity
When you’re planning a task, you will have to allot Pomodori to it as you see fit. However, if you’re out of Pomodori and the task is not finished, you have to move on to the next on your To Do list. This means that if you have to edit a document within 2 Pomodori but it’s not done, you move on.
At the end of the day, you can review and work out what went wrong and why you weren’t able to accomplish the task in the time you allotted. Additionally, figure out why your estimates of the time needed were not correct.
Adding Distractions in To Do Lists
If you’re writing and you’re getting distracted by things such as watering the plants, feeding the cats or even answering the phone, just add them to your lists instead of stopping your work. As a rule of thumb, urgent tasks must go on your “To Do” List whereas others can go on your Activity Inventory if they are not as urgent and can wait.
You need to be able to recognize and master external and internal distractions so that you can focus completely on the task at hand.
Counting a Pomodoro
If you get distracted and break the Pomodoro such as interrupting the task, before the 25 minutes are over or if you stop, the Pomodoro cannot be counted. This means that you will have to restart the Pomodoro.
If your task is finished before the 25 minutes are up, use that time to re-read, check or focus on other areas of the same task to ensure that you got it right.
It’s easy to see that the Pomodoro technique can be a bit demanding but once you master it, then applying the Pomodoro technique for writing will help boost overall productivity and help you accomplish your tasks with ease.