Inna Post, Ph.D.
Using the Pomodoro Technique in a Post-Pandemic World
As so many of us contemplate heading back into the office after receiving the vaccine, we need to be mindful of how our workdays will be different in the “new normal” of a post-pandemic world. What will the future of in-office work look like now that we are all experts at working remotely? And, since many of us can expect to continue working and managing teams semi-remotely for the foreseeable future, how will we need to adjust our routines for a “hybrid” workplace?
The Pomodoro Technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in 1992 and is named after the classic tomato-shaped Pomodoro timer. (Photo by AlessandroZocc for Getty Images.)
With so many unknowns looming ahead of us, now is an excellent time to fall back on tried and true time-management techniques. A personal favorite of mine — and one that will be particularly useful in a hybrid workplace, where flexibility will be key — is the Pomodoro Technique. Created by Francesco Cirillo in 1992 and named after the classic tomato-shaped Pomodoro timer, it’s a system for productivity organized around 25-minutes of work followed by 5-minute breaks. After four rounds of that pattern, you take a more extended break, giving you time to grab a coffee or take a walk.
This on-again, off-again pattern is especially beneficial for preventing burnout, something we need to be hyper-aware of as we transition into post-pandemic society. Working past the point of optimal productivity is a bad idea, even if you have a lot on your plate. Taking frequent breaks between focused work sessions promotes sustained concentration while keeping you from getting mentally fatigued.
You might also try this technique if your days are split between “in-office” and “at home” hours. Imagine you will now report to work at 2:00 PM instead of 9:00 AM. How can you make the most of your morning without getting distracted by your pets, kids, spouse, or chores? Use the Pomodoro Technique! Work for 25 minutes and then water the plants; focus again for 25 minutes and then fold some laundry. Repeat this twice more, and you’ll be ready for a longer break, the perfect time to put on your favorite podcast and head into the office for your afternoon meetings.
While we don’t know what the next few months will hold for us, we can expect that the changes we will face will be overwhelming at times. The good news this time around is that we know the changes are coming. Unlike the complete 180° shift to remote work that happened at the start of the pandemic, we can think more carefully about maximizing our time and energy during this transition. Prepare yourself now by exploring the Pomodoro Technique and other time-management strategies, and your chances of reducing stress and preventing burnout will get better and better!