My 20-minute secret to being insanely productive

I’m known for cramming a lot into my day. Here’s a day in the life blog post from 2009 which describes a moderately busy day.

If anything, I’m busier now than I was then! But fortunately, I’ve
been able to compensate with a simple system that makes me more

At the beginning of the year, I started using the Pomodoro Technique:

Here’s the official (or at least the Wikipedia) definition:

There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

1) decide on the task to be done
2) set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
3) work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
4) take a short break (3-5 minutes)
5) every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15–30 minutes)

I’ve modified the technique to suit my life in a couple of important ways.

1) As I’ve noted before, I spend the first pomodoro of every work day figuring out what I need to accomplish that day.

2) I’ve set my pomodoro timer, the free Android app Pomodroido, to 20
minutes, not 25. My reasoning is that no matter how unpleasant the
task, I can do anything for 20 minutes. But 25 sounds like a long time.  Oh what a difference 5 minutes can make!

3) For my longer pomodoro breaks, I either eat lunch or take a nap. No sense in wasting the time, eh?

It’s a rare day that I don’t get at least 90% of what’s on my list done.

Besides being a time management technique, pomodoros are also an energy
management technique. As the work of Jim Loehr has shown, it’s more important to manage energy than time.

I don’t work insane hours (unless you count all my blog posts), yet I
get more done because for each pomodoro, I’m diving in and performing
focused work, without hesitation or distraction.

Pomodroido is free, so it won’t cost you anything to try it out. Let me know how it goes for you!

2 thoughts on “My 20-minute secret to being insanely productive

  1. I just started using the pomodoro technique today and am right now on a longer break for 15 minutes (reading your blog) I first heard about this during your interview with Ramit Sethi. It's super effective! It's 4pm in East Coast time, and I am still ready to jump right back in the next 25 minutes of focused work. This is very different from my previous experiences of a typical work day

  2. Appreciate the Android application tip. Having the reminder in my pocket will probably beat my iTunes pomodoro tick-tock track. And I'll settle for being sanely productive.

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