Last week I was running an event and we had a great speaker providing some inspiring input about ‘How neuroscience will change the way you think about learning’. Amongst the gems involving stories about baby monkeys and brain scans, then we heard about the ‘Pomodoro’ technique.

This was first pioneered by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s, but there has been a resurgence in this idea due to some recent neuroscience work. Those of you lucky culinary fans who have one of the iconic ‘tomato timers’ in your kitchen (popular in the 80’s) will be in a good position to take advantage of this recommendation in how to learn more effectively and enhance your productivity…

So in essence it goes like this:

Brain scans clearly show the enhanced level of brain activity during an ‘active’ phase compared to a ‘passive’ phase (i.e. sitting at a computer).

So all you need to do is:

  1. Set your pomodoro timer for 20 minutes
  2. Start working
  3. When it ‘rings’ then go for a 5 minute walk or get a cup of tea
  4. Reset the timer for another 20 minutes
  5. After 4 ‘sets’, then take a longer break of 20 minutes.

We’ve long ‘sort of known’ that sitting too long at a desk is bad for concentration, posture etc etc, and now we have some ‘proper’ neuroscience to back it up. 

And in homage to this – I then tried it with this blog. I had a think, had some lunch, wrote it out, now I’m off for a cup of tea. Excellent.

So….give it a try for yourself. I’d be keen to hear from anyone who resets their calendar to have 20 minute meetings spaced 3-5 minutes walk apart, rather than 1 hour meetings……..sounds very tempting doesn’t it!

by Jason Miller