It's easy to leave the office at the end of the day only to question what you really got done—hence the gravitational pull of every motivational, self-help, and productivity-related technique on the market. But do these methods offer Marie Kondo-level satisfaction, or are they total shams? That's the question I aimed to answer when I started my one-week trial of the Pomodoro Technique.
That's right. For one week, I let a tomato run my life.
Let me explain. The Pomodoro Technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, an Italian software developer who found that using his tomato-shaped kitchen timer really helped his productivity (pomodoro means "tomato" in Italian). In a nutshell: You work without interruption for 25 minutes, take a five-minute breather, repeat that four times, then take a 15- to 30-minute break.
It's not surprising that many Silicon Valley engineers have embraced the Pomodoro Technique; their work culture is obsessed with efficiency. But at a fashion magazine, to-dos change quicker than runway models backstage.
In one week, I managed to get through only four full Pomodoros successfully (i.e., completely undisturbed)—and two of those happened at home. The Pomodoro Technique isn't meant for personal activities, yet I found it to be the perfect motivator for a 25-minute run and to finish hanging the shelves that had spent the past six months collecting dust in the corner of my living room. By the end of my experiment, I definitely saw the benefits. It broke my workload into smaller, more manageable tasks; I learned a whole lot about where my daily distractions were coming from; and I didn't burn out as quickly!
Bottom line: That little tomato-shaped timer on my desk served as a subtle middle finger to unnecessary interruptions.
My Pomodoro Journal
I start my first 25 minutes, and I get an "It's urgent!" call. I ignore the Pomodoro and revert to "I better deal with this now" mode—only to find out the urgent item is a meeting...happening next week. I reset my timer, even more determined to get through the next one.
Day 2: Get Meta
During my first Pomodoro of the day, I make a sign to let everyone know when I am in the middle of a Pomodoro—and cruise around the office to enlighten those who are regulars at my desk. By the end of the day, I still haven't successfully completed a full Pomodoro, but I do get much closer.
Day 3: Take It Offline
I ditch the office for a nearby café. I crank out several stories and get through two Pomodoros successfully before heading back to the office. Mission accomplished.
Day 4: Bring It Home
The Pomodoro might be touch and go at the office, but I find two very helpful applications for it outside of work: exercise and home improvement.
Day 5: Speed Meeting
Each of my external appointments is scheduled with a strict 25- minute limit. Talk about productive: We skipped the small talk and got straight to business— and not one person gave me side-eye when the buzzer rang to end our meeting.
This article appears in the February issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.
Stay In The Know
Marie Claire email subscribers get intel on fashion and beauty trends, hot-off-the-press celebrity news, and more. Sign up here.
Ryan Reynolds Says Gigi Hadid’s Clothing Line “Makes Damn Nice Clothes” in Supportive Instagram Post
Hadid’s response was equally as sweet.
By Rachel Burchfield
Selena Gomez Steps Out For a Star-Studded Girls’ Night in Brooklyn Mere Hours After Confirming She’s Dating Benny Blanco
Pizza, a comedy show, and coordinating miniskirts with Taylor Swift make for a pretty solid night out.
By Rachel Burchfield
King Charles Totally Loses His Cool With Queen Camilla In a Moment Body Language Expert Says “Lowers Her Status”
“Charles displays not just a bad temper but also disloyalty here.”
By Rachel Burchfield
Peloton’s Selena Samuela on Turning Tragedy Into Strength
Before becoming a powerhouse cycling instructor, Selena Samuela was an immigrant trying to adjust to new environments and new versions of herself.
By Emily Tisch Sussman
This Mutual Fund Firm Is Helping to Create a More Sustainable Future
Amy Domini and her firm, Domini Impact Investments LLC, are inspiring a greater and greener world—one investor at a time.
So Your Company Is Diverse, Now What?
Morgan DeBaun, CEO and co-founder of Blavity, shares her best advice for running a multicultural company.
By Morgan DeBaun as told to Maria Ricapito
The Competition for Creators
Creators hold more power than ever—and companies are taking stock.
By Rachel Epstein
Power Players Build on Success
"The New Normal" left some brands stronger than ever. We asked then what lies ahead.
By Maria Ricapito
Don't Stress! You Can Get in Good Shape Money-wise
Yes, maybe you eat paleo and have mastered crow pose, but do you practice financial wellness?
By Sallie Krawcheck
The Book Club Revolution
Lots of women are voracious readers. Other women are capitalizing on that.
By Lily Herman
The Future of Women and Work
The pandemic has completely upended how we do our jobs. This is Marie Claire's guide to navigating your career in a COVID-19 world.
By Megan DiTrolio