Applying Pomodoro Technique in Teams: Forget the Long 3 Hour Meetings and Do This!

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 10, 2021

Have you ever been a part of a team that could never seem to get any work done? Have you sat in meetings wondering why you were there, or what the meeting was even for?

Disorganization in group work can derail any project. To stay on track, you need to organize your time. One way of managing time is the Pomodoro Technique, which is perfectly suited for working as a team.

 

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple and effective way to manage time at work. The basis of the technique is creating a schedule for when you are going to work and when you will take a break. This helps you maximize your productivity without burning yourself out.

To follow the technique, you work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. The technique suggests you do four rounds of these, and then take a longer break of 15-20 minutes.

One round of work followed by a break is called a ‘Pomodoro,’ the Italian word for tomato. Why tomato? The technique’s name is inspired by tomato-shaped oven timers. Even though most of us use our smartphones as timers now, the unique name stands the test of time!

 

How Can Teams Use the Pomodoro Technique?

If you are looking to use the Pomodoro in your workplace, there are two main situations where it can be applied. The first is to give structure to your meetings, and the second is to organize your team’s work.

 

Pomodoro in Meetings

71% of senior managers in a survey said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Meetings often feel like a waste of time when there is a lack of planning or an unclear goal.

Having a clear goal is important. When people set goals, they are more motivated and perform at a higher level. By establishing a goal, you are also making sure that everyone in your team shares the same focus. This way, you can work toward your objective without wasting time on irrelevant discussions or tangents. Using the structure of the Pomodoro Technique is a great way to stay on track with achieving objectives.

To use the Pomodoro Technique in your meeting, begin by outlining the meeting agenda with your colleagues. This should include an overall objective, with each Pomodoro acting as a step towards achieving it. Here is an example of what an outline could look like, using the Pomodoro Technique:

Meeting Objective: Figure out a way forward with a struggling project

 

Pomodoro 1: Introduction and Review

  • Housekeeping and introduction
  • Share meeting objective and plan
  • Review/share feedback on yesterday’s presentation

Break (5-10 Minutes)

Pomodoro 2: Discussion

  • Discuss options for solutions
  • Allow time for questions and clarifications

Break (5-10 Minutes)

Pomodoro 3: Decision

  • Bring forward top solutions offered during the discussion
  • Decide how to move forward
  • Vote if necessary

As you can see, using the Pomodoro Technique allows for natural breaks during meetings. Scheduling these breaks before moving on to another task, such as moving from brainstorming to decision-making, gives your team members time to recharge. They can come back to each Pomodoro with a refreshed mind, which will lead to smarter and more thoughtful decisions.

The example also shows how each Pomodoro focuses on smaller tasks that lead to achieving your meeting’s objective. This allows your team to hone in on what is important. The time limit in Pomodoro you all understand that there is no time to waste – which is how your productivity is maximized in your meeting.

It is also nice that it’s not because everyone wants to get out of there, but because you have limited time to achieve your goals. better work environment.

 

Pomodoro in Group Work

According to a paper published in Frontiers in Psychology, the two kinds of group work are “working in a group and working as a group.” The Pomodoro Technique can be applied to either of these.

Let’s imagine first that you are working as a member of a group, but doing individual work. To use the Pomodoro Technique, you first need to identify what tasks each group member is responsible for. When the work is divided, set a schedule using the Pomodoro Technique time frames. Your team’s schedule might look like this:

 

Pomodoro 1:

  • Identify tasks
  • Assign tasks
  • Establish schedule
  • Begin individual work

Break (5-10 Minutes)

 

Pomodoro 2: Continue individual work for 25-30 minutes

Break (5-10 Minutes)

 

Pomodoro 3: Continue individual work for 25-30 minutes

Break (5-10 Minutes)

 

Pomodoro 4:

  • Regroup
  • Share progress updates
  • Time for questions or requests for help
  • Reassess priorities
  • Make a plan for the next round of Pomodoros

Break (20 Minutes)

 

If you are working with another person on the same task, applying the Pomodoro Technique will look slightly different for you. It will actually look more like using the technique by yourself than the first example. The main difference is that you will have to build communication into your schedule. Communication is key for collaborative work, so make sure to give it the time it deserves! 

To give you an idea of how to do this, here is the first section of a collaborative Pomodoro schedule. In this example, coworkers are working together on a presentation. Keep an eye out for where they have scheduled in communication!

 

Pomodoro 1:

  • Review presentation breakdown
  • Set objectives
  • Create a plan for Pomodoros
  • Draft presentation outline

Break (5-10 Minutes)

 

Pomodoro 2:

  • Brainstorm ideas for a strong introduction
  • Write introduction
  • Create intro slide

Break (5-10 Minutes)

 

You can see in this example that the coworkers are working on each task collaboratively. Working in this way means decisions must be made as a group, including deciding on what your work schedule will be. This will require a more detailed plan than the first example, where team members alternated between group check-ins and individual work. Because each person in the first example was able to create their own plan for some of the Pomodoros, less time was spent making a schedule as a group. This isn’t possible in the second example, so more time has to be spent in the first Pomodoro to plan. 

All of this planning might feel like a lot to work through, but it is so important for working as a team. As stated earlier, if everyone knows what the goal is and how they are getting there, they will do better work!

 

Take Your Breaks 

Using your Pomodoro to plan or do check-ins might not seem like ‘work,’ but it is important to keep these within work time instead of using your breaks. Breaks are a vital part of the Pomodoro Technique, and you need to take them! 

This is especially true when working in a group. In the same way that people can get burnt out from work, they can get burnt out from being around other people. If you have any introverts on your team, they will need to have a minute to step away and recharge their social batteries before returning to work.

 

Why Should Your Team Use Pomodoro?

Now you know how to use the Pomodoro Technique, but why should you use it? There are many different benefits to the technique, including:

 

Better Focus

As you practice using the Pomodoro Technique, you will find it easier to focus during your work sessions. Exercising your focus is exactly like exercising a muscle!

Reduced Fatigue

Earlier we discussed the importance of breaks, and this is why! More than two-thirds of the workforce in the US feel fatigued at work. To help prevent workplace fatigue for you and your team, follow the Pomodoro Technique and take nice five-minute breaks.

Everyone is Accountable

When you create a plan with your team members, you agree on what needs to be done and who is going to do it. Team members are able to check-in with one another on progress by saying “how did you do?” instead of “what did you do?” The first one feels a little friendlier, doesn’t it?

Everyone is Equal

If one person tells everyone in a group exactly what they’re going to be doing, some team members are not going to feel very important. This can affect the work that they do, how much they contribute, and whether or not they enjoy coming to work.

Using the Pomodoro Technique and planning as a team makes everyone feel seen and heard. When you feel like you are valued as a team member, you are likely to contribute more because you value your team as well.

When more people are active participants, a variety of perspectives are shared. This can lead to exciting ideas for your project that you may never have thought of before. You could even be the one to share a fresh perspective with your team!

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