The tomato method gives ketchup effect – Do fewer things and become more productive!

In the agile world, you often talk about limiting the number of things you do at the same time. But is it really necessary? Can't we just "multitask"? 

My name is MATTIAS LIVRÉ and I've been working at Olingo since 2016. I have a background in, among other things, IT Service Management, a burning interest in agile working methods and how to combine these two areas. The last assignment was just one where I as Agil Coach at Spotify worked on processes in an agile context. 

Our surroundings and our behavior (always with a smartphone in one hand) let us believe that we are good at multitasking, i.e. with a smartphone in one hand. do several things at the same time. It can be anything from talking on the phone and driving a car at the same time or attending a meeting while we read emails. In our eagerness to get as much stuff as possible done, we have found a life hack that gives us at least twice as much time. We simply do two or even more things at the same time – amazing of course. 

But unfortunately it's a little too good to be true. First, the brain can't handle two tasks at the same time, it jumps between the two. Secondly, multitasking makes you more ineffective than if you only do one thing at a time (although the feeling is that you produce at Superman pace). The reason for this is that the brain consumes glucose when it constantly needs to change focus, which is the same energy that we need to focus. This creates a negative spiral where we become more and more unfocused and tired.  The solution to this is simple – do fewer things but with more focus! 

You can test this yourself in something called Pomodoroteknik which is largely about dividing your work into smaller parts and focusing intensely for short periods without distraction. The technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and has been named from the egg watch, designed as a tomato, which was used to set the time. The technology works like this: Turn off notifications and other noise that can pocka on attention and focus for 25 minutes (a Pomodoro), take 5 minutes break and repeat 4 times before taking an extended break. If you are interrupted in your Pomodoro, please ask to come back after you implemented the Pomodoro you are working on at the time. When the time is over, interrupt your work and take a break, even if you are inside a "flow". On your 5-minute breaks, make a clear break. Get up and reach you, get coffee or do something that's not work. 

I myself use this technology. Maybe not always in rounds of four, but i have with me in the back of my head to try and work focused for 25 minutes and then take a short break I work more efficiently and get more done. Test yourself and see if it works for you. The effort is small, as I said, but the effect can be great. I guess everyone wants to be more productive by doing fewer things.

MATTIAS LIVRÉ is a consultant at Olingo.
Contact: mattias.livre@olingo.se or LinkedIn.

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