If you have trouble staying focused or with procrastination there is a very simple technique that when used correctly can lead to super-high levels of productivity.

I personally have been using this technique for about 5 years now and it is hands down one of the most effective ways to get shit done.

A Little Background

The word “Pomodoro” means tomato in Italian, and Francesco Cirillo, an Italian university student in the 1980’s would use the Pomodoro Kitchen Timer to stay on task and break his work into timed intervals.

Originally the technique called for 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a 5-minute break but everyone is different and finding your sweet spot is going to help you get the most out of this hack.

Pomodoro Timer

Timed Focus

Now how is this going to help me be more productive? Doesn’t taking a break every 25 minutes mess with my focus? Wouldn’t it be better if I just sat down for 3 hours until I was done?

Well without getting into too much of it, it will undoubtedly help, no it will not mess with your focus, and no sitting down for 3 hours will not necessarily make you more productive.

I am sure at this point you have heard that staying up late to finish working on something is not as good as getting to bed and finishing with a fresh brain after a good night of sleep.

Well, consider the 5-minute break in between your focused work, a nap for the brain. You are not literally napping, but you are giving your brain an opportunity to stop focusing, and allowing it to roam free.

With this small break you are doing two things; 1. you are giving your brain an opportunity to break from the taxing work of staying focused and 2. you are giving yourself permission to do the things your brain wants to do like check your phone, scroll facebook, stand up and stretch etc.

By resisting the temptation to check email or your phone every 2 minutes by giving yourself permission to do it only during your 5-minute break, the nagging pull of your device will fade knowing that in just a few minutes you can scratch the itch.

The Tools Of the Trade

Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones — if you have your timer set, your task is chosen, and these headphones in with some ambient tunes, you will get more done in your next productivity session than you can imagine.

BreakTime App — this one is for Mac’s but I am sure there is one for the PC as well. You set the timer for your desired length, set the amount of time you want your break to be, and it will freeze your screen letting you know it is time to take a break.

Give It A Shot

So get a timer (digital or otherwise), put on your headphones, determine what you are going to focus on, do the damn thing.

I personally started with 25 minutes with a 5-minute break but I found that a 40-minute interval with a 4-minute break worked best for me.

After recommending this to several friends who have implemented I have heard everything from 20 minutes to over an hour. So find your sweet spot and step up your productivity.

You will be amazed at how much more you can get done in a day with laser-sharp focused attention.