Most of my freelance work consists of writing articles about web development and working from home for multiple blogs. Each week, I have to deliver plenty of posts, so it’s essential I budget my time carefully if I don’t want to stay up working until 3 AM not to miss a deadline.
I’ve tried a couple of techniques to use my time more efficiently, like setting dedicated work hours or spreading out my tasks throughout the day. To date, the only method I’ve stuck with so far is the Pomodoro technique.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use pomodoro as a writer, and why the technique works when it comes to keeping you productive. Plus, I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite tools to keep track of your work cycles. The clock is ticking, so let’s get to it!
What the Pomodoro Technique Is (And How It Works)
The Pomodoro technique is very straightforward. You set aside 25 minutes to focus on work with zero distractions, and then you take a five-minute break. The goal is to repeat the cycle over and over until you’re done for the day.
Each 30-minute cycle is called a pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato. The technique gets its name from the antique tomato clocks people often use for cooking. It’s been around for nearly three decades now, and it remains popular because of its simplicity.
The secret of the Pomodoro technique is it forces you to focus. If you can successfully work your way through 25 minutes without any distractions, you’ll get a surprising amount of work done. Then, you get to reward yourself with a little break. It’s long enough to unwind, but not so much that you lose track of what you were doing. If you skip the breaks, your productivity might suffer.
Most people add a more extended break after a few cycles (think three or four) to avoid getting burned out. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a matter of preference, but the prospect of always having a break ahead of me keeps me going. Now that introductions are out of the way, let’s get down to the details about how to put the technique in practice.
How I Tackle My Work Using Pomodoros
The Pomodoro technique may be simple, but it’s only effective if you can remain focused on the tasks at hand. What I do is prepare my workspace before I start the first pomodoro of the day so that I can avoid distractions altogether.
Moreover, I use a Chrome app called Strick Workflow as my timer. It’s nothing fancy – a single click starts the work timer, and then it rings when the 25 minutes are up. Then I click on it once more to begin my five-minute break and repeat the process when it’s over.
The neat thing about using an app built into my browser is it also enables me to block those sites that tend to sap up most of my free time. If you’re anything like me, you can’t be trusted not to open Reddit, Netflix, or Twitter every single time you have a free minute. I shudder to think how much time I waste throughout the day when I should be working. I never seem to learn!
Since I can’t trust myself to be responsible during my work hours, I added every single one of those sites to a list within the app. If I try to access them during a pomodoro, I find myself facing this message:
If you can be responsible, then you needn’t go that far. Just try doing a handful of pomodoros a day to start off, and you’ll be amazed at how productive you can be.
3 Tools You Can Use to Track Your Pomodoro Cycles
These days, most Pomodoro apps include a lot of fancy features, such as custom timers and tracking your work hours. I’m a purist, but even I can admit that keeping track of when you’re working can be useful if you’re trying to develop and habit. With that in mind, here are three tools I recommend for your use.
1. Focus Booster (Windows, OS X, Android, and iOS)
On top of including a pomodoro timer, Focus Booster also enables you to keep detailed track of how much time you’ve spent working. You can review your productivity and even generate reports you can share with clients.
The app’s premium packages also enable you to generate invoices and keep track of revenue. In other words, it’s an all-in-one solution for freelance writers.
2. PomoDoneApp (Windows, OS X, Linux, and Android)
If you’re the kind of freelancer that likes to use services such as Trello, Slack, and Basecamp to stay organized, this is the Pomodoro app for you. On top of the basics, such as including a customizable timer and logs of your work, PomoDoneApp shines when it comes to integrations.
You can connect the app to all your favorite task-management services and start unique pomodoros for each task. For example, I could use PomoDoneApp to time how long it takes me to finish this article since it’s linked to a Basecamp to-do.
3. Focus Keeper (iOS)
Focus Keeper is a bit more streamlined than the other two tools I’ve recommended so far. It enables you to time your pomodoros, keep track of your productivity, and set daily goals.
If all you’re looking for is a simple application with a kickass interface, this is it. Plus, the daily goal feature is excellent if you want to challenge yourself to become more productive.
As a freelance writer, two things will determine how much you earn – your rate per word and how long it takes you to complete each project. You can always increase your rate over time as you gain more experience, but becoming more efficient requires dedication.
What works for me is the Pomodoro technique. Applying pomodoro for writers is simple if you pick the right tool for it:
- Focus Booster: An all-in-one solution for time tracking and client management.
- PomoDoneApp: The best Pomodoro application when it comes to integrations with third-party services.
- Focus Keeper: A simple, yet elegant smartphone app with a great daily goal feature.
After a while using the Pomodoro technique, you should notice an increase in your productivity. That means you’ll be able to take more work on, and your first stop to find it should be the Paid to Blog Jobs board. You’ll save a lot of time on looking for reputable clients, so give it a shot.
Do you have any questions about how to use the Pomodoro technique? Ask away in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.