🍅 🍉 These 2 emoji have become artifacts for making meaningful progress in my work. Each one reminds me how to find creativity through constraints. Here’s how I use the 🍅 Pomodoro Technique and 🍉 The Watermelon Prioritization Framework
🍅 The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to create space for focused work. Here’s how you use it:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes
- Work on a specific task, without interruption for those 25 minutes
- When the timer rings, you get a 5-minute break
That’s it. It’s a simple way to stay more focused. It’s called Pomodoro because Francesco Cirillo, the creator of the technique, used a red tomato timer as a university student (and tomato in Italian = Pomodoro).
Other tips I’ve found helpful:
- Once you do 4 pomodoros in a row, spend 30 minutes doing something else
- Break your work down into Pomodoro-sized chunks
- If you do have a distraction during a Pomodoro, try to defer the distraction until later. One way I do this is by having a running ‘inbox’ where I add notes, ideas, and future todos.
- Figure out how many pomodoros you have in a day.
The reality is that we often end up only doing 1-3 hours of deep work in a day. Once you realize how little time is well spent, you see how much opportunity there is to improve.
🍉 The Watermelon Technique
This is a prioritization method that comes from a Lebanese proverb shared by my friend, Charbel.
“If you try to hold more than one watermelon in each hand, you’ll end up dropping them all.”
Essentialism is a solid read if you haven’t read the book at least once. By nature, most of us are hoarders when it comes to “priorities”. Priority didn’t have a plural when it was first created. But over time Priorities came to mean all the important things and all too often today Priorities = All the things to do.
The hard part is that reality often doesn’t let us focus on just one thing.
In response to the real need to do more than one thing but also focus, here is how we use the watermelon technique:
Pick the 2 most important things on your list and put a watermelon emoji next to them. These are now your “two watermelons”.
For my company, we use this at 3 levels:
- 🍉🍉 2 company priorities/year
- 🍉🍉 2 team priorities/quarter
- 🍉🍉 2 individual priorities/week
It doesn’t mean that other things aren’t important. But the most important thing is to figure out the most important thing.
These emoji give me positive constraints for making meaningful progress. I hope they help you make more progress in your work and with your teams.