Use the Pomodoro Technique when you can’t get started

ADHD Business Tips: Use the Pomodoro Technique when you can't get started.

If you have a big project to get done and you can never quite find the time to get started, the Pomodoro Technique can be perfect for helping you make progress by providing a time-limited window of opportunity.

Often when we have a large task to get done, we will put off starting because even with our overly optimistic time estimates, “all or nothing thinking” tells us it’s too big to do in one go. This can become our worst enemy when it comes to executing our big ideas and achieving our most important goals. The first step of course is to break down the project into smaller chunks but even that step can be difficult to find the time for, especially when it’s a task you aren’t interested in – I’m looking at you tax return! ?

But what if you didn’t have to “finish” to make a start? What if you could work on breaking down your big project into little steps, or tackle one of said little steps, for just 25 minutes and then get on with the next thing?

In my experience this is where the Pomodoro Technique really shines.

? But what is it exactly?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves breaking work into focused intervals, typically 25 minutes, called “Pomodoros,” followed by short breaks. It was developed by business consultant Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s when he was a university student. For someone with ADHD, the Pomodoro Technique can be particularly beneficial, especially when it comes to getting started on something.

If you’re not familiar with the technique, here’s how it works:

  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes: Start by choosing a task and setting a timer for 25 minutes, which is one Pomodoro interval.
  2. Work on the task: During the 25-minute interval, focus solely on the chosen task. Avoid any distractions or interruptions as much as possible.
  3. Take a short break: Once the 25 minutes are up, take a short break of about 5 minutes. Use this time to relax, stretch, or do something enjoyable to refresh your mind.
  4. Repeat the process: After the break, return to another 25-minute work interval. Continue this cycle of focused work followed by short breaks.
  5. Take longer breaks: After completing several Pomodoro intervals (usually four), take a longer break of about 15-30 minutes. This extended break allows for more substantial rest and rejuvenation.

The Pomodoro Technique is helpful for the ADHD brain because it provides some structure without feeling restrictive, promotes focused work, and breaks long or open-ended time periods into manageable increments.

These timed intervals can create a sense of urgency and help with procrastination. The short breaks provide necessary opportunities for rest and relaxation, preventing fatigue (and burnout) and maintaining motivation. They let folks with ADHD work in shorter bursts, aligning with your attention span and minimising the likelihood of becoming overwhelmed or bored. As a bonus they can improve productivity by growing your awareness of how time is spent, and helping to limit hyper-focus rabbit-holes when you need to avoid them!

When you’re at the beginning of a project that you know will take more than a few hours it can feel like you’re standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, but the Pomodoro Technique can be the virtual sherpa that gets you to base camp and beyond, 25 minutes at a time. You even can use a work interval to take the master task list for your project and make note of the number of Pomodoro sessions each task on the list will take. This can help big ungainly goals or projects to feel much more doable.

Often, you’ll find after the initial 25 minutes that you’ve gained some momentum and you can keep going and get more done, but even if you don’t, or you have other work to do, you’ll be 25 minutes ahead of where you were before. That’s a win in my book!


TRY IT OUT:

You don’t need anything fancy to use the Pomodoro Technique, in fact the idea is that you could use any old kitchen timer! So if you have one you can grab it and get started. That won’t be practical for everyone though, and if that’s you, check out Pomofocus where you can set up the work and break intervals you prefer and add your tasks as well so you know exactly what you should be focusing on during each interval. The best part is that it’s totally free (and it integrates with Todoist if you you keep lists over there)!


What project can you get started on today with help from the Pomodoro Technique?

Until next time,

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