Pomodoro Technique for Footballers

Pomodoro Technique for Footballers

One of my most successful productivity strategies is the Pomodoro Technique, but as a life-long footballer, I prefer to give it a slight twist.

In a nutshell, the Pomodoro Technique is another name for “time blocking” or setting aside periods of time to focus on a single task. The name “pomodoro” comes from the Italian word for tomato and refers to a tomato shaped kitchen timer that the inventor of the Pomodoro Technique, Francesco Cirillo, used to measure his work periods when he was a student.

Cirillo’s recommended process consists of:

  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.
  4. Take a short break (3–5 minutes).
  5. After four pomodori, take a longer break (15–30 minutes).

My problem is that after playing soccer for 40+ years, my internal clock is set for 45 minute focus periods. At 25 minutes, I am just beginning to hit my stride, but after two 45 minute “halves,” I definitely need a break or my productivity plummets. I feel like I am working but each tasks seem to take twice as long.

As a result, I follow a slight variation of the Pomodoro Technique:

  1. Pick my high priority task using my Prioritization Analytics process.
  2. Turn off all distractions, especially notifications (email/social/text/etc.).
  3. Set my mechanical timer for 45 minutes. (I’d love a timer that has a soccer referee’s whistle as an alarm but I’ve never taken the time to find one. If you know of one, drop me a note at @enilsson.)
  4. Do the work.
  5. When the timer rings, take a 10-15 minute break. I make sure I am getting up and walking around, grabbing something to drink and taking care of any biological requirements.
  6. Back to my desk for my second half of work.

At the end of the second 45 minute period I shift gears and spend about 30 minutes cruising through less focus-intense tasks like emails, calls and busy work.

Usually I can squeeze at least two 90 minute focus periods into one day, which works pretty well for me. If we are measuring blog posts in football pomodoro” periods, this one has only taken 1 half. Not bad.

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