How To Use Tomatoes To Explode Your Efficiency

unnamedHere’s a simple idea that will make a massive difference to your effectiveness and efficiency. It sounds weird. I tried it. And – it works! It’s a 60 second read that will save you many hours of time. Give it a go!

I was preparing for a series of speeches I am giving around Australia this month. I’m using my six months ‘gardening leave’ to ‘give back’ to others. Sharing learnings is how best I can do that. I had at least two hours of hard work to do to update a presentation to make it current and extra valuable. I was struggling to get started. The task felt big. Then I remembered Kuba’s weird advice at breakfast two months ago. ”Enjoy tomatoes if you want to turbo your effectiveness,” he’d said. What he meant was this:

Use regular breaks to accelerate your productivity.

Stay with this. It’s good stuff.

Kuba shared the Pomodoro Technique with me – a time management method which uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.

There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done
  2. Set the pomodoro timer to n minutes (traditionally 25)
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings
  4. Take a short break (3–5 minutes)
  5. After four pomodori, take a longer break (15–30 minutes)

I gave it a go. I started by using the J.F.D.I. approach”Just Fricken Do It.” Get started on a task but have the deal with yourself that if after 10 minutes you want to stop, you can. At the same time, I set my timer for 25 minutes, and then got stuck in. Suddenly, the buzzer buzzed. Wow. That was 25 minutes? I took a short break. And then went again. Repeated it four times. And I was done. Felt great. Nailed it.

The next day I had to get started on arranging a detailed schedule for a three day visit to Singapore in a month. It involved making contact with about 20 people, and arranging a range of meetings and events. It felt daunting. So I attacked it with the Pomodoro Technique. I used the first 25 minutes to plan carefully what I wanted to achieve in that three days, and with whom. Then had a short break when the buzzer went. And then spent 25 minutes making contact with all I wanted to meet. Bang. One highly effective hour, including two Pomodoros. Big progress made. Onwards.

What did the Daddy Tomato say to Junior Tomato on the family walk? “Ketchup.” (with thanks to ‘Pulp Fiction.’). So – want to catch up time and get more done, more effectively? Try the Pomodoro Technique. I like it. Thanks, Kuba!

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16 Responses to How To Use Tomatoes To Explode Your Efficiency

  1. Victoria May 20, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    Love the sound of this technique to not only help with work but with my studies as well. I’m going to try it tonight as I need to nail my assignment! So far I’ve been getting by on the J.F.D.I approach.

    Thanks Chris, timely as always!

    • Chris Savage May 20, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

      Thanks Victoria!

    • Henry Crawford May 21, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      Chris, Ray Kroc, of McDonald’s fame, once said of tomatoes “when your green you’re growing, when you’re ripe you rot”.

      • Chris Savage May 21, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

        Love it! Thanks Henry.

  2. Narelle May 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    So simple but so powerful.

    • Chris Savage May 20, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      Thanks Narelle

  3. Annabel May 20, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    This is similar to a mantra that I use myself and have passed onto many team members….Q: “How do you eat an elephant? A: “One small bite at a time”. I could add in the tomato clock now as an added bonus.

    • Chris Savage May 21, 2015 at 10:44 am #

      Thanks Annabel!!

  4. Wendy May 20, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    Got to love serendipity! Used the Pomodoro Technique today to get going on a piece of work. Completed the work and went into check my emails for the afternoon and there was your excellent post on the very topic!

    • Chris Savage May 21, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Thanks Wendy. Coincidence indeed!

  5. Clare Robinson May 20, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    Ha – applying this tomorrow as I could do with a burst of productivity. I also noticed I’m great at starting things but not maintaining them so I think getting clear on the outcome for the allotted time and sticking to it will also really work! Thanks!

    • Chris Savage May 21, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Pleasure Clare!

  6. Kuba Tymula July 31, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    I am glad it is still working for you!

    • Chris Savage August 3, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      Sure is Kuba. Thanks for the tip!!

  7. Dan August 5, 2015 at 12:24 am #

    Good post Chris. Ps would you be able to share your presentation with me?

    • Chris Savage August 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      What presentation are you refering to?

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