one tomato, two tomato, three tomato, four

12th February 2019

I know there will be lots of you reading this, who like me and many of the people that I work with, struggle to keep on top of all the things that need to get done. I’m am a self confessed “list-a-holic.” I’ve upgraded to a book of things to do, and there are times when the list seems never ending and it can feel overwhelming.

If that sounds like you here’s a couple of pointers to consider;

Are you making it worse?

At those times, when our task list starts to overwhelm, those familiar negative automatic thoughts can gather momentum;

  • I can’t do it…
  • I’ll never get this done…
  • I haven’t got enough time…
  • Here I am again, I’m rubbish at this…

Even writing those I can feel the impact that saying that to yourself can have. They are thoughts that deplete your mental energy. They convince you that things can’t get done and that there’s something wrong with you. Worst of all they take up so much headspace that it’s hard for us to access the part of the brain that we need for reasoning and problem solving.

So, before this downward spiral gets out of control, see if you can reframe and reword your negative thoughts. Maybe;

  • I can do it…
  • I will get this done…
  • I do have enough time…
  • Here I am again, I managed last time, and I will do again…

Notice the difference that you feel, if you repeat these over to yourself. These thoughts add to your mental energy and there’s a sense of optimism in what you are saying to yourself. Now, that’s all fine and well I hear you say, but what if there really is a huge number of things to get done?

OK so here’s my top tip…….think TOMATO or POMODORO to be precise. That’s Italian for tomato! It’s a brilliantly technique developed by a guy call Francesco Cirillo, based on the idea that you do stuff in short, sharp bursts and then you take a short break!

The Pomodoro, or pom for short is a period of time. I like a 45 minute pom. That’s just long enough to get into the detail of something, but short enough that I don’t lose focus.

Here’s what you do;

Go down your list of things to do and decide how many poms for each one. You need to be pretty strict with this; there’s no point fooling yourself that things will take less time…so be honest.

Next, grab yourself a timer, or set one on your phone. Pick your highest priority, most important job and make a start, and don’t stop until the timer goes off. When the timer goes take a 5 minute break. Use your break to grab a coffee or check your social media etc. Then set the timer again and off you go!!

Don’t be tempted to break off before the end of your time – it’s the 45 minute undivided attention that enables you to work at your best! Our biggest time stealers are interruptions and distractions…so turn off your email notifications and alerts and concentrate on the task in hand.

There are so many advantages of working in this way;

  • Working in short sharp bursts, probably means you get more done
  • You’re focused on one thing, rather than trying to do a whole bunch of stuff at the same time
  • You’ll find that it’s amazing what you can do in a short, focused time slot
  • You’ll make less errors as all your attention is on one thing, rather than scattered across lots of stuff

Above all, if you’re anything like me, what you’ll notice is the sense of achievement when you take the 5 minute break and realise how much you have done and how in control you actually are!

Good luck

FYI this blog took 2 poms, and now for another reward break!!