Learn how to stay focused while working from home, caring for kids, tending to household chores, and anything else that gets thrown your way.

By Jessica Bennett
January 15, 2021
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Staying focused throughout the day can be one of the biggest hurdles to completing your to-do list. Especially now that many people are juggling remote work while caring for children and managing household duties, there are so many things pulling at our attention that it can seem impossible to focus on the task at hand. That's where the Pomodoro Technique comes in. This easy-to-follow time-management method helps you break up your day into small increments with breaks in between so you can stay focused while avoiding burnout.

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The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980s by a university student named Francesco Cirillo who wanted to learn how to stay focused while studying. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, a reference to the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Francesco initially used to keep track of his time. He wrote a book about what he learned, and the technique is now used around the world as a way to limit distractions while getting stuff done at work or around the house.

The first step is to choose a specific task, which could be clearing out your inbox, decluttering your closet, or finishing a work assignment. Set a timer for 25 minutes and dedicate yourself to working on that task uninterrupted for the entire time. That means no checking social media, responding to texts, or any other distractions. If you think of another to-do during that period, write it down and plan to tackle it later. When your 25 minutes is up, record the session with a checkmark on a piece of paper and take a 5-minute break to rest your brain. Stretch, go on a quick walk, or unload the dishwasher, then start again with another 25 minutes. After you've completed four rounds, allow yourself a longer break for 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep track of how many pomodoro sessions it takes to accomplish different tasks. Over time, you'll be able to more accurately predict how long a certain activity will take you and better plan out your time. It can also help you handle interruptions more effectively. Instead of dropping everything to handle that unexpected task right away, finish what you're doing and deal with it once your 25 minutes are up.

To adopt the Pomodoro Technique, all you need is a timer, a pen and paper for recording sessions, and at least 30 minutes of time to work on a task. For the timer, you can simply use your phone or a classic kitchen timer ($13, Bed Bath & Beyond). There are also plenty of apps and websites to help you master the method, such as Pomodor (which you can use for free in your web browser) or the Be Focused Pro app ($3, Apple App Store). The key to success is limiting other distractions, so consider muting your phone or email notifications and shutting the door to your room for privacy while you work.

By focusing on a single task for just 25 minutes straight, you can spend your time more effectively without becoming overwhelmed. Whether you're tackling a room-by-room organizing project or just trying to stay focused while working from home, the Pomodoro Technique might be the secret to a more productive day.

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