By: Iris Matulevich, Creative Team
Hi - your friendly neighborhood extrovert here. While some folks are basking in the joy of their work-from-home solitude and realizing they never want to work in an office again (cough, cough, Lisa Slagle), some of us aren’t the type to stay productive and sane while stuck at home alone. I will admit I have started talking to my plants on the windowsill - but they don’t laugh at my jokes nearly as much as my coworkers do. At least they don’t make fun of me for eating Spaghettios every day.
Because I get my energy from being around other people, I find myself needing to take breaks much more often when working at home alone than I would at the office. It can be a struggle to stay focused when I’m only a few steps away from my snack cupboard or my couch and just one 10 minute nap can’t hurt oh shit I slept for 45 minutes. Without my coworkers around I have no one to stop me from eating an entire bag of Lay’s Dill Pickle Chips while staring blankly at the wall. I’m the first to admit my work from home vibe needs some help.
One day, when discussing this predicament with my favorite cactus Frank, I realized one of my go-to productivity tools from college could also help when working from home - if it got me through a 50-page thesis, it can get me through anything. I tried it out and was amazed to get through my work day without feeling burnt out and to squeeze in non-work tasks that needed done as well.
It’s called the Pomodoro Technique or the Tomato Timer (pomodoro means tomato in Italian - and I thought those three semesters of Italian wouldn’t be useful). The inventor of this technique named it after his tomato-shaped kitchen timer… but let’s be real, you’ll likely just ask Siri to set your timer for you.
Here’s how it works:
Pomodoro: 25 minutes of productivity. Set your timer and take on a task. No phone distractions, resist the urge to get up during the full 25 minutes. When it rings, it’s time for a break. Wrap up your sentence, hit save, take a step away.
Short Break: 5 minutes to get away from the screen. Fold your laundry, do a yoga pose, sink into a five minute meditation, read a page of the book you’re working on, write a paragraph in your journal. When the timer goes off, go back to your pomodoro.
Long break: After four pomodoros, take a longer break - 15 to 30 minutes. Take a walk, take a quick nap (set an alarm), make yourself a snack. This is a reset break, then you can get back to the tasks at hand with a fresh mind.
This technique allows you to break up a giant list of tasks into achievable bits - and after a few rounds, you’ll be amazed what you checked off your list. It won’t replace the feeling of being around your coworkers and crushing your projects together in person, but it can help fight the distractions surrounding us in our home offices. Get your work day tasks done quickly and efficiently in time for that happy hour Zoom call (and if you’re having one of those, can you invite me? Thanks). Cheers, extroverts!