E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

August 2, 2010

How to Avoid Multitasking – The Pomodoro Technique

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & Surroundings in the SpringDo you still remember the article "Is Multitasking Bad for the Brain?", that I put together a few weeks back over here in this blog? I am not sure whether you do or not, but I’m certainly having a blast myself at the moment moving away from multitasking on my day to day work after putting it together, specially for that area where multitasking was the king for me so far: meetings. However, things have developed even further from there and I have also successfully stopped it altogether for a bunch of tasks and various other activities. And all of that thanks to The Pomodoro Technique! Yes, indeed, I’m officially hooked up!

I think the first time I heard about the Pomodoro Technique was from Steve Rubel himself a few months back. I am not 100% sure whether he still makes use of it today, but I must confess that all along I was a little bit skeptic about it myself, thinking that it may not be the most effective thing to do to carry some tasks where you would need all of the focus and attention you could possibly spare. Once again, I was wrong!

It took me a few months later to realise that multitasking, while it has its many benefits, it also has a bunch of drawbacks, specially if you are trying to do something where you would need your full attention to accomplish it. And that blog entry I mentioned earlier on in this post surely has been quite an eye opener for me. Fast forward a few weeks later on and I get to bump into one of those short video clips that just makes sense!

Have you checked out Greg Head‘s inspiring and thought-provoking 5 minute long Ignite Phoenix video presentation on The Pomodoro Technique? If you haven’t, you should! Specially, if you don’t believe in multitasking and are looking for a new way of getting things done, mainly for those activities where you feel you could do without any interruptions.

The video clip lasts for a little bit over 5 minutes and in it Greg describes quite nicely how it actually all works. If you would want to read further on the instructions you could have a look into the blog post he put together describing the event itself and how that technique works out eventually. And if you would want to take a look further and take it for a spin yourself, like I have started doing in the last couple of days, if you are using a Mac, you could use Pomodoro for Mac, which works beautifully.

I bet you are wondering what my experiences have been like, since I started using it applying this technique, right? Well, I could probably just summarise it with a single word, or may be a couple of them: it just works! Yes, that’s right! For the last couple of days I have been using Pomodoro for Mac for those tasks and activities where I would need to focus perhaps a little bit more than usual and forget about any interruptions and it’s worked wonders! Those tasks / activities are now a thing of the past, when till just recently, they may have lingered for a little while longer than expected and eventually not coming out with the best of results.

So there you have it; the multitasking machine I once used to be, is now a thing of the past. Instead, I have got a few bursts of great concentration and focus spans throughout the day that help me get a better grasp of my own productivity and, funny enough, I have found it so helpful that I’m already starting to apply this Pomodoro technique to my social networking activities as well. But I guess that would be the subject for another blog post. For now, I will leave you to start playing Greg’s YouTube video and see if it would also be inspiring for you, just as much as it has been for me so far …

(Ok, now that you have watched through it, did it make you go and give it a try, and, if so, did it help? I would love to know whether it did the trick for you, too, or not, and whether you are thinking about reducing some of the multitasking you have been doing lately … Feel free to share a comment or two sharing your experience, whenever you have got a chance… Maybe, perhaps, on your "next pomodoro"…)

(Update – August 2nd 2010: Quick update … My good friend Martin Lindner just tweeted this great tip I thought was also worth while sharing across over here:

"Did you know the graphically nice #pomodoro timer app? for me, it is definitely supportive. http://is.gd/dYIhX"

I blogged initially how I was using Pomodoro for Mac for this, right? Well, Martin just shared this link to a nice, rather visual, nifty app that would work for Windows users. So if you are in Win you may want to give that one a whirl! Many thanks, Martin, for the great tip! Greatly appreciated!)

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