Community and Communications
Community and Communications
How to get things done, help your focus and maintain your energy
Long term followers of Tiimo know that we are strong believers in getting the most out of your day, but that we don’t agree with hustle culture and hate the toxic productivity messaging around a lot of time management-related theories and routines. For those with neurodivergent brains and/or chronic conditions, a lot of those methods don’t work or are unsustainable at best, and at worst can set you further behind and deplete your energy or spoons. However, the Pomodoro technique is one that we think can really support those who have executive function challenges. It is disarmingly simple, and it’s power comes from usings short bursts of activity and regular breaks to keep you focused.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method which was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s when he was a university student. He found it difficult to focus on his assignments and often felt overwhelmed with all that he had to do. He challenged himself to keep focus for a short period of time before taking a break as a reward, and timed this work period with a tomato shaped kitchen timer. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, and it worked so well that he named the technique after it!
It is extremely simple and easy to get started. It doesn’t require lengthy planning at the start or any equipment other than a timer, which makes it perfect to integrate with your Tiimo schedule (check out the premade Pomodoro routine in the routine library).
1. Pick a task
Look at the list of things that you need to get done and think about what could be done in 25 minutes. Some tasks will need longer than that, so you might have to complete them in a few pomodoro sprints. For ones that won’t take that long, see if it makes sense to batch them with other tasks on your to do list.
2. Set your timer for 25 minutes (this is called a Pomodoro)
Use your timer or Tiimo schedule to start your pomodoro sprint. Remind yourself that you will concentrate only on this task for the 25 minutes.
3. Work only on that task for the full 25 minutes
Commit fully to work on that task for the 25 minutes. If you think of something else that needs to be done, write it down and then get back to your task. If something disturbs you during the process, try and deflect it until later, and deal with it after your Pomodoro has finished.
4. After the 25 minutes is up, take a 5 minute break
Check off that you completed your task, or note how much progress you made on it. Take your 5 minute break, and make sure that you don’t spend it doing another task or anything work related. You need to completely switch off from your task list!
5. Start your next 25 minute Pomodoro with a new task or complete the one you were working on
If you still have work to complete, use the next 25 minute Pomodoro to focus again on the previous task. Otherwise, pick your next task and repeat the process.
6. Take another 5 minute break after your 25 minutes is up
I bet you are getting the hang of it now. Enjoy your break!
7. Once you have completed 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
Take at least a 30 minute break but no longer than an hour. This gives your brain a chance to rest. Try to avoid screen time in this break to give your eyes a rest, especially if you were working on a phone or computer in your earlier Pomodoros.
Part of the appeal of this method is the fact that it is so simple! Rather than giving you a long system, which encourages procrastination, this method gets you to jump right in and just start. Procrastination tends to happen when a task seems big or overwhelming, but by breaking it into small, manageable actions that take less than a half hour, it makes it easier for your brain to solely focus on what needs to be done. Once you have got that first Pomodoro out of the way, it makes it easier to continue and finish up working on that task, because you know that you have already made progress with it. 25 minutes of focus is also a good amount of time for those who struggle with executive function, as it is enough time to get a task done without it feeling too long to concentrate, but also prevents a longer period of hyperfocus where you can end up losing hours to a topic.
Working in sprints is known to help train your brain to focus for short periods and can help with improving your attention span. If you find it hard to work with distractions coming in (like emails, notifications and messages), the Pomodoro technique gives you the permission to ignore them for 25 minutes, knowing that you will deal with them in a later Pomodoro. This means that you are more able to complete a task because your attention isn’t being pulled elsewhere.
The fact that breaks are built into the process is also important, especially for those who struggle with interoception cues. The five minutes at the end of each Pomodoro session is the perfect time for you to have a drink of water, grab a snack or use the bathroom. If you find that you need extra stimulation, it also allows for sensory play with a stim toy or chewy before you have to refocus for the next Pomodoro sprint.
Whilst a lot of productivity methods are only designed for office based tasks, this method is flexible for everything from craft projects (the breaks allow you to step back and look at your work), everyday tasks, housework, content creation and routine work.
To make things even easier - we have added a pre-made Pomodoro Routine into the Routine library in the Tiimo app. This has a Pomodoro routine of 4 Pomodoros and breaks already set up, so you can simply drag them into your schedule. You can then further customise the Pomodoros with colours and icons to reflect your activity.