Over the years, I tried several apps and techniques for time management. None of them worked for me.
What stood out for me and I ended up adapting it for a long time was simple pen and paper.
I’ll be sharing how I manage my time, the technique I use and how effective it is.
The tools you will need:
- Writing tool, i.e, pen (I prefer gel pens)
- Writing pad or an A5 diary
- Sticky notes
- A Pomodoro timer app
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
A Pomodoro is a set time, used specifically and specifically for ONE task only. It can be 25 minutes, 45 minutes, or 90 minutes.
You set yourself an alarm of 25 minutes and work solely on ONE task only. Everything other than that specific task is a distraction, even checking your emails. After the alarm is off, you can take a break from your screen for 10 minutes and set another alarm for the next 25 minutes.
Here’s a quick explanation of the Pomodoro Technique:
I use “Easy Pomodoro” app on MacOS.
It starts with writing your goals.
I start my day by writing 3 goals on a sticky note. Those 3 goals are very specific, for instance;
- Send a detailed proposal to XYZ client on Upwork
- Create a new Image for my XYZ Gig on Fiverr
- Draft up a blogpost
3 tasks that I can accomplish on that day, that are going to help me on my long term goals.
I then set a number of Pomodoro(s) for each task. My Pomodoro is of 45 minutes, it can be different for you, i.e 25 minutes to 90 minutes.
For instance, I’m aware that each of my task is going to take 1 Pomodoro each and I try to complete that specific task within my Pomodoro timer.
Once that is settled, I paste that sticky note on my diary and start working.
Journaling is OG
The only reason this time management technique works is because I paste that sticky note on a diary and journal what I feel, experience, and observe while performing a specific task once the Pomodoro is over and I have completed the task.
At the end of the day, I can see how I performed, what was my mood like, and what not because I have journaled my day as it went by.
I only set 3 goals each day that I can accomplish in 4 Pomodoros of 45 minutes, 6 if I’m feeling extra productive. That is only 3 hours of productive work. But mind you that works only get done within those 3 hours. Everything else that I’m doing is either distractive or operational that I can delegate if I wish to.
I also listen on LoFi beats on YouTube or Spotify. It sets the mood for me, that feeling of being plugged in. You can check LoFi beats, piano music or games music, basically anything without vocals and see what works for you.
And for the married people out there; my home office is adjacent to my bedroom. My begum calls me like every 30 minutes or so for whatever chore she demands from me. So my ass needs to get up, go to the bedroom and get her a glass of water or maybe just turn on the heater.
This is distractive and totally kills the vibe if you are in Pomodoro. So I drop her a message when I’m starting my Pomodoro, quit Slack, and snooze notifications on my laptop. She totally respects my Pomodoro time and I know my 45-minutes Pomodoro is over when I receive a message “baat suno” from my begum.
Mannan Mehroz says
Hello Sir, Thank you for sharing this article.
It’s a really nice article and it will help me to improve my time management skills especially I love the idea of the Pomodoro app.
One follow up questions I have,
Suppose you set the timer for 45 minutes and in that meantime, a new buyer hit your Fiverr message, and if you will not respond within 45 min then there are high chances of losing that job, so how you are handling this limitation?
Usama Arshad says
I wouldn’t know that I received an email because my notifications will be snoozed, logged out of my emails, quit Slack and my phone will be across the room when I’m in Pomodoro.
That is the point of Pomodoro; you eliminate all the distractions and only work on ONE task.
I’m completely fine losing a lead if the only criteria of winning were to reply as soon as possible. That type of person doesn’t fall into my ideal client persona and would be a headache in the long run rather than helping my agency make profits.