Time Management for Moms: The Pomodoro Technique
If you’re like me, then every day is a never-ending race against time. As a Work-From-Home (WFH) mom, there are so many tasks I have to complete. Between handling work-related responsibilities, caring for the kids, and maintaining the home, it can sometimes feel like there’s a vortex trying to suck the life out of you. Every once in a while, you ask the universe, “Can’t I get an extra hour or two?” But the fact is you can’t get extra time. However, you can learn how to use the time you have optimally. We are not about multitasking here, but something more practical- The Pomodoro technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro technique is a time-management and organizational system that helps you maximize productivity. It was invented by an Italian man named Francesco Cirillo sometime in the 1980s. Using a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, he timed his work sessions and his breaks hence the name Pomodoro Technique. ‘Pomodoro’ means tomato in Italian.
It employs a simple method, with large tasks broken into manageable chunks that can be achieved in 25 minutes. After 25-minutes, there is a short interval or pause to rest then return for another 25 minutes. If a short-term goal cannot be achieved in 25-minutes, it is moved to the next 25-minute cycle.
Over the years, this technique has become revered as one of the best ways to maximize productivity for anyone. Now, instead of a physical timer, you can have a virtual tomato-timer on your laptop or any other device with internet access.
How to use the Pomodoro Technique as a Mom
You’re a mom who has to complete tasks like meeting a target for your employer, help your children with homework, clean, cook, exercise, and couple time. Even if you have a partner, I’m sure if you are like most moms, there’s still a huge burden on you! Here’s a practical quick guide on how to use the Pomodoro Technique for productivity as a mom.
- Get a Pen, Write it all down
Grab a pen and paper or use the notepad on your phone. Just get it out of your head! Write down all the tasks that need to be done that day. Sort them according to their level of urgency.
- Break it down and time it.
After sorting through the list of tasks, project an estimate of the time it would take to complete each task and break them down into 25 minutes chunks. Start your tomato-timer and begin.
For example, let’s take meal planning for the week (Total about 1.5 hours).
- Washing and cutting (25 Minutes)
- Cooking your grains like rice or quinoa (25 Minutes)
- Putting everything into smaller containers (25 Minutes)
- Cleaning up the kitchen (25 Minutes)
By breaking this chore into smaller versions, it doesn’t seem very complicated, and time goes by fast without you realizing it.
- No interruptions or breaks during the 25-minute interval
The key is to focus on completing the task in 25-minutes without any interruption. It is a dedicated work time that must flow to completion non-stop. After 25 minutes of work, you take a five-minute break to get a drink, check your messages, go to the bathroom, help your kids if needed, and then set the timer for another 25 minutes.
- The cycle of Four Pomodoro
In the meal prep example above, adding the 5 minutes after each 25-minutes work session, you reach a total of two productive hours. After the fourth Pomodoro, instead of a 5-minutes break, take 20-30 minutes. You could use the time to grab a meal, play outside with your kid or scroll on your phone during nap time (if you have good timing!). By the time you are done, you feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready for another cycle of Four Pomodoros.
- Tick the boxes
By employing this method, you get to tick-check the boxes on your to-do list as you complete each task. You can measure your level of productivity and move uncompleted jobs to the next day without feeling guilty or overworked.
- Remember that you do not have to do four Pomodoros. You can just do one or two a day. The principal is the same. 25-minute chunks without interruption. This method can be very useful during nap time.
Benefits of this Technique.
- It helps to reduce mental strain and fatigue. The short breaks can help to clear your head and reduce stress.
- Using the Pomodoro technique, you don’t have to multitask to achieve productivity. According to some studies, the brain is not capable of handling multitasking complex projects over a long period. This way, you can avoid the false feeling of productivity that comes with chronic multitasking.
- The Pomodoro technique is one way to break complicated tasks. It allows you to focus on tasks without distractions while taking time for relaxation.
- It helps to foster organization and work-life balance, whether you are WFH mom or SAH Mom.
- It’s great to teach your kids this technique as they grow. It’s best to start using this method during the elementary school years. Younger children have less attention span but you could always try a modified version such as 15 minute intervals for certain tasks- like cleaning or doing homework.
People want productivity in every aspect of their life but managing everything can seem impossible without a plan. The Pomodoro technique helps to maintain the equilibrium between productivity and adequate rest. Do you have a lot to handle as a mom? Start with a 25-minute commitment and see if it works for you!
You can do this using an app like Toggl Track and/or your phone’s timer or using a worksheet.