Using The 25/5 Time Management Technique

Using The 25/5 Time Management Technique


pomodoro for time management

There are quite a few different productivity methods out there but the Pomodoro Technique® has been the easiest one for me to adapt and has been successful at actually increasing my work efficiency. (The Pomodoro Technique® is a registered trademark by Francesco Cirillo) This technique is beneficial to two types of workers: 1) Procrastinators who don’t know where to start and keep putting off projects, or are easily overwhelmed by large tasks; and 2) The ultra-focused who spend countless hours on a task forgetting to take breaks & eats. Although the second type seems more productive, it’s also unhealthy.

This time management technique helps you balance out large tasks by breaking them into smaller ones using units of time.

Let’s use the following example: I have to write a report on the year-over-year traffic change in two websites. That is the large project. Breaking it down a bit, first, I know I need to collect the data from the two years for both websites. Then I need to analyze. Then write my findings. Okay, let’s get started.

25-Minute Blocks of Work Time

Set a timer (I use EggTimer) for 25-minutes. Now, start your first small task. In this case, it is to collect data for one of the websites. Do not take any breaks during this time period. Stay focused on this task. Don’t check Facebook or even your email. You will be able to soon. Twenty-five minutes is a very manageable block of time. It is enough to be productive but not too much where you’ll get distracted. If you finish the task during this block of time, move on to the next. If you don’t finish when the timer goes off, don’t worry, you can pick it up after your break.

5-Minutes Breaks

When your timer goes off, set it again this time for 5-minutes. Now you can take a break. Check your email, social media, go to the bathroom, stand up and sit back down. This is just a short break. You shouldn’t really be leaving your desk or going too far. This also helps give your mind a break, which surprisingly, will help you be more efficient at the project.

Just as many times you need ‘another pair of eyes’ when reviewing a document you have read a thousand times, it is the same when you are working on a project or solving a problem. While you may think to yourself, “I can’t get up until I solve this,” the mere act of getting up and walking away for a second will help you re-focus. So when you sit back down, you may see something you hadn’t before.

Again, five-minutes is a manageable period of time. It’s not so long where you will completely lose focus. But it is just enough to get yourself back in check. This is also a good time to re-assess what you’re working on. If you have already spent 25-minutes on something that you thought would only take you 5, you might want to go about it a different way. This is better than getting an hour into it just to realize you could have done it better from the get go.

After your 5-minutes is up, get right back to your task.

2-Hour Chunks of Productivity

After four of these cycles, essentially two hours, take a 15-minute break instead of the usual 5-minutes. In this 15-minutes you can leave your desk, use the bathroom, get a snack, chat with a co-worker. This gives you a chance to stretch your legs and re-focus your body as well as your mind. We all know that sitting for long periods of time isn’t a healthy practice, so this is a good reminder to just get up.

Of course, when it’s lunch time, feel free to take that as you normally would. Then when you get back to your desk, start-up the timer again and get right back to your task.

I am one of those who has difficulty getting started and staying focused, but using this 25/5 method has really helped me to pay attention to what I need to do. Sometimes that 25-minutes feels like a really long time but the timer always goes off in the end. This has also really helped me break-down large tasks into more manageable portions. I would spend hours on a project (also while being easily distracted) that I could have finished quicker if I had actually split it into smaller tasks.

There is no requirement for this technique other than a timer, which we now have readily available on our computers or phones. No excuses for not trying this out.

This site is not affiliated with, associated with, or endorsed by the Pomodoro Technique® or Francesco Cirillo. Obviously.


6 Replies to “Using The 25/5 Time Management Technique”

  1. I haven’t heard of this technique by name but I’ve recently been doing writing that I would put off; difficult emails, cover letters, in focused 10 minute bouts. Just start writing to get something down. I can go back and change it later. Maybe the next step is to stretch them out a bit longer and stack them back to back. Thanks for the idea!

    1. That’s perfect! Part of the idea behind Pomodoro is just to get started doing SOMETHINGANYTHING. And usually if you say “I’ll only do this for 10 minutes” you end up continuing it afterwards. I do like that Pomodoro incorporates breaks because sometimes I get into “I have to fix this right now” mode and forget that getting up away from the computer is actually helpful in clearing the head sometimes. Good luck with this!

  2. I’ve been using Pomo and GTD for the last six months. Pomo helps me organize my day (by providing discipline), and GTD gives me an endless line of things to work on.

    You didn’t mention it, but the recommendation in Pomo is to complete 11 per day. I rarely get up to this number, because a lot of non-structured work things come up that make me hit the pause button. And not getting to 11 makes me feel inadequate.

    Another misalignment I’ve found is that pomodoro aren’t always beneficial when your work requires being in a serious mental zone. Taking a break can remove me from that zone, which is counter productive.

    1. Thanks for the extra information! I like Pomodoro strictly because it’s not heavy on work tracking like many other techniques. I’ve never kept track of how many sets I do. There is a definite time/place for this technique, it may not work for everything. Distraction is a killer for me so I really like that it keeps me focused.

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