If you read the title of this article and thought, “Only a 5 min break?” keep reading. Five minute breaks are a way of life for people who have discovered the Pomodoro Technique. And no, that’s not a fancy method for making pizza. And it’s not a sneaky way for your boss to shorten your meal break to a measly five minutes, either.
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management method that helps you focus, cut through distractions, and get more done. Plenty of people swear by it.
Read on to discover how it works and ideas for maximizing those precious five minute work breaks.
What Is The Pomodoro Technique? Make A To-Do List And Focus On It And Nothing Else
These days, many people have a lot on their plates at work. No matter what your official job title is, you may also be expected to keep up with social media, manage a team, plan events, and track multiple projects. Ding… was that another email that just came through? It can be hard to stay focused with so much going on.
The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early ‘90s by entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo. It is based on the simple idea that people are more productive when they focus on one task at a time. Cirillo named the technique “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his time when he was in college.1
Here’s how it works:
- Choose a task you’d like to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Focus only on that task for the full 25 minutes.
- Stop when the timer goes off.
- Break time: Take a short, 5 minute break.
- Repeat the cycle all over again.
- After four work intervals, take a longer break for 20-30 minutes.2
If you have a larger task that can’t be completed in 25 minutes, break the work down into a series of short, timed intervals and short breaks. If a colleague comes up to talk to you, or a text comes in during a work interval, ask if you can get back to them when the 25 minute interval is over.
The idea is that hours will pass, and you’ll be checking stuff off your to-do list like the efficient, effective person that you are.
Better Time Management: The Importance Of Regular Breaks When Working Hard
Taking regular breaks may sound like a luxury you don’t have time for, but experts believe that it may actually make you more productive. There are many potential benefits of using the Pomodoro Technique and taking regular breaks. Here are a few.
- Breaking down your to-do list into smaller tasks may make you more effective.
- Saying “no” to certain requests for your time (if you are in the middle of a work cycle) may help you focus on the tasks you already have.3,4
- Taking regular breaks may support productivity and creativity.5
- Breaks may support mental well-being and help with stress.
- Breaks may help prevent burnout.6
- Breaks may prevent decision fatigue.7
How Can You Maximize Your Next 5 Min Break At Work?
Convinced that the Pomodoro Technique could work for you? The only thing left to do (besides buy a cute timer) is to figure out how to spend those well-earned 5 minute breaks you’ll be taking.
Any type of break is good for your mind and body.8 But what if you filled those breaks with activities that were also good for you? Here are some ideas:
Move Your Body
You likely already know that exercise is good for you. But did you know that even 5 minutes of exercise can do wonders for your mental and physical health?9,10 If you think that 5 minutes isn’t enough time to get a good workout in, try holding a plank position for that amount of time. You’ll reconsider.
Here are some quick workouts to try:
- A 5 minute high-intensity interval training workout
- 5 minutes of jumping jacks
- A relaxing stretch or walk around the office
- Calf raises, pushups, crunches, squats, arm circles… or whatever feels good to you in the moment
Grab A Notebook
During your next 5 minute break, try channeling your inner creativity. Grab a notebook to see what flows from your brain. Stream-of-consciousness journaling might help with distractions, stress, and anxiety.11 Doodling might help you to relax or process information.12
Take A Coffee Break
If you’re feeling a midday slump coming on, you may benefit from a 5 minute coffee break.
In addition to supporting your energy, grabbing a cup of coffee may have the added benefit of giving you some time to socialize. Social interactions may give you a hit of dopamine and make you feel great.13
Call Or Text A Friend
More and more people are working remotely these days. If you work in an office, you may have no problem staying social. But if you work from home, you may have to actively create opportunities for social interactions. Connecting with others can help you feel more engaged with the world, support your mood, and put things in perspective.14
On your next five minute break, try texting a friend a meme or calling a family member for a quick check-in.
On your next break, go zen for a few minutes. Several studies link mindfulness meditation with increased productivity, focus, and energy.15
Who doesn’t love to laugh? Studies show that laughter can help reduce stress, shift your focus away from negativity, and provide a physical release.16
For your next quick break, try watching a few funny dog videos, listening to a comedy podcast, or calling your silliest friend. You may feel refreshed and ready to get back to work after you have a good laugh.
Listen To A Song That You Love
A 5 minute break may be the perfect amount of time to close your laptop, put in your earbuds, close your eyes, and blast that one song that you love. Bonus points if you sing along. Music may support a positive mood, help you stay motivated, and bring you joy.17
Giving The Pomodoro Technique A Try
If you’re trying out the Pomodoro Technique and wondering what to do with all of your newfound small breaks, you have a lot of options. Sure, you could sit at your desk, eat a snack, and stare out the window. But why not try a short burst of something that will make you feel good?
After all, it’s your time. You can use it however you want.
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