How many times have you decided to finally start working on your ambitious goal, only to get distracted wasting hours on the Internet looking at everything from Wikipedia entries on the Civil War to adorable puppy photos?

Despite knowing we want to accomplish big goals, it’s easy to lose motivation if we do not effectively spend our time.

We know we should have a plan. Yet, for so many of us, we do nothing or use ineffective methods and blame ourselves for being procrastinators.

Unless you were one of the lucky ones, no one teaches us effective time management growing up. But it’s a lot simpler than it sounds. Using your time effectively means focusing on ONE task for a defined period of time followed by a mentally refreshing break.

Easier said than done right?

Despite knowing we need to focus, we keep multiple browser tabs open, keep notifications turned on our cell phone during tasks, and check email like crack addicts.

As studies have shown, despite thinking we may be a great multi-tasker, doing multiple tasks at once means it will break down our emotional strength and ultimately our productivity.

In our last email we started with the foundation. Time management does not necessarily matter how long you work, but rather that you work on the right things. No matter what we tell you in this email, if you do not focus on the stuff truly important to you, effective time management will not be your savior.

But, let’s say you have identified the right things to work on and want to manage your time effectively. We are fans of keeping things simple. That’s why we use the Pomodoro Technique.

It’s easy, set a timer and work for 25 minutes uninterrupted, followed by a 5 minute break. For tasks that take longer than 25 minutes, we adjust the time as needed and take a longer break (there is no pomodoro police, only angry interneters who will scold you for cheating).

Now you may think scheduling tasks this rigidly will restrict you in some way, but in our experience, we have found quite the opposite.

As the adage goes, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

How many times have you begun working on a task only for it to seem like it would take forever? You resolve to write an email that you thought would take 5 minutes, but takes 20? A “quick” meeting winds up being not so quick? All because of no limits.

With the Pomodoro method it accomplishes:

  • Improving organization. Being able to clearly see how long a task will take makes it easier to fit into our daily schedule. 
  • Improving focus. We may have trouble staying focused for hours on end, but managing not getting distracted for 25 minutes is doable. 
  • Improving effectiveness while working on tasks. By not “powering through” tasks, working for multiple hours on end without a break, we can actually be more effective by taking breaks and mentally recharging:
 
By including breaks into our work sessions, we can dramatically improve our effectiveness:
 
Combining an important task + focused time management =  a deadly combination.

The majority of us can wrangle up an hour in our day to get important stuff done. And if we use the Pomodoro method, that’s basically two pomodoros or two 25 minute focused work sessions, followed by a 5 minute break. That’s it!

We may think really productive people are some mystical creatures obtaining success after success by magic, but as we learned, they simply nail down the basics really well using consistent effective planning.

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