Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pomo Whato?

A few months ago, my husband came across an issue with his work load. He had so many projects and tasks that he had some difficulty dedicating the needed time and focus on one given item at any one time. He found he could easily get thrown off track about the ping sound indicating a pending email or the piles of documents that screamed for attention.

As always, he went in search of something to help him with the time management issues of having multiple tasks that all needed to get completed in a timely manner. Being the techie guy, he immediately pursued the app world. After exhausting the trial and error of task lists, he came across the Pomodoro technique. The technique promotes the elimination of time anxiety and promotes better concentration and focus. 

With the Pomodoro technique, he makes an inventory of all the the tasks he needs to accomplish. He then breaks the inventory into "To Do" items for that day. When he has completed his list, he then sets a timer for 25 minutes. Within that 25 minutes, he focuses on completing as much of that one simple task as he can. After his time is expired, he provides himself with a 5 minute break. The break allows him to check his email, get another cup of coffee, or text me to tell me how much he loves me. Then he gets back to work either on the next item or continuing the current task. 

Here's the Pomodoro cheat sheet that provides more detail of the technique. The website also provides Inventory Sheets and To Do task sheets for free.

The technique calls for any basic timer. However, he found an app that supports the Pomodoro technique. 
There are quite a few free timers out there on the market, but he found that he liked Focus Time by Peer Assembly. The app costs $4.99, but the customization of the timer and it's ability to give the user some great data on productivity make it well worth the price.

The timer ticks down for the task and provides the use with star "stickers" when you have completed each task. Who doesn't love a star "sticker"? You can also pick from a variety of 'ticker' sounds, from a grandfather clock to an egg timer; or no ticker sound at all.  Whatever is most soothing for you.

The app provides the user with many setting options in order to maximize greatest productivity. 

The Pomodoro technique has really been beneficial for him and has me thinking of how it can be useful in the classroom setting. We as educators know that attention to tasks can be a student's worst enemy. It can be even more of an enemy in a student-directed classroom where there are days spent working within stations. Studies show that our students work best when given small "brain breaks" as their day progresses. I am seriously considering using the Pomodoro technique with my fifth graders. It would make for an interesting study on these Digital Natives whose attention spans seem to be shrinking by the day. 

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