It’s been well documented by PA Life that we can actually work harder if we take more breaks in between tasks, as spending too long staring at one task can leave you distracted and actually negatively affect your workload. There are plenty of ways to combat this, be it by breaking up the day with a cup of tea or just going for a walk at lunch, but ClearFocus is looking to help us bring productivity to the front of our mind with the Pomodoro method.
The Pomodoro technique isn’t a new timekeeping method but it has found new life since the dawn of apps. Developed by student Fracesco Cirillo in the late 80s, the method is named after Cirillo’s kitchen timer, which he would use to focus his mind. Some of the multi-lingual among you may have noticed that ‘pomodoro’ is actually the Italian for tomato, the shape of Cirillo’s timer, which admittedly makes the technique much less glamourous but no less valuable to busy PAs.
‘ClearFocus: Productivity Timer’ is a simple, colourful and straightforward app that flies the flag of pomodoro timekeeping. All you need to do is set yourself a goal – in my case, my goal was to ‘write the App of the Week’ – then just press play. By default, the timer then gives you 25 minutes to get going with your task, after which you get a five minute break to breathe before getting back to it. All of the timings are adjustable, and keeping the app open is a helpful reminder to how long you have until your next break.
The app can also stop your phone from buzzing or interrupting you whilst you work, which is helpful for your focus, and can track your usage statistics to see how often you take breaks and hopefully help you reflect on how much time you’ve dedicated to certain tasks. Android users can even use a widget to put the countdown on the front screen but it’s exclusive to paid users and personally I found it handier to see the constant countdown tick away until the next break.
For anyone working to strict deadlines, being able to dedicate time specifically to one activity can help focus you mind. There is a ‘pro’ version that removes adds, lets you pause your timer and disable all notifications, and at £1.59 it adds enough to be worth it, but it’s not essential to getting the most out of the app. If you can struggle to focus on the task at hand, I’d recommend giving it a go to see just how much time you can save in your working day.
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