Procrastination is an ugly beast. At first it seems so harmless to watch Reddit or Twitter for five minutes. You start working immediately. Before you know it, it is 1
"But I don't want to work," you say. "I want to do something fun ." Listen, I promise those memes will be there when you return. They always are. Instead, I'm going to talk about five free apps I've tried for five days, designed to get you to work and keep you focused. How? With the Pomodoro technique.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
I'm glad you asked. Created by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique helps you stay on track by splitting your work into short, easy-to-manage time intervals. Now these intervals change depending on who you are talking to, but for the most part here is the general rule:
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Do nothing but work all the time. Do not check Facebook, do not reply to that WhatsApp message. Work . "We have already determined that I have a focus problem. Why would this help?" Because when that timer goes off, you get a whole five-minute break to do what you want .
While five minutes don't sound as good as, say, the hours of recklessness you usually leave crazy with, after you've stopped your next 25 minutes, you get another five-minute break. And so on until you have completed four "Pomodoros" (the Italian word for "tomatoes", like in a tomato timer). After the fourth, instead of taking a five-minute break, take a little more time. You can choose – 15 minutes, 25 minutes … just don't make it too long.
The idea is to always have that break to look forward to, so that you can keep up the work. 25 minutes does not sound too bad if you know that you have an Instagram free time at the end of your life, especially when you are approaching the end of a fourth Pomodoro.
For this article I spent five days testing five free Pomodoro apps, giving each app a day of my time. I will say that some of these apps can be fully understood within five minutes, while I can imagine that it will take five days for others to really see the whole picture. That said, I am happy to share my findings with you and encourage you to spend some time testing one of the apps that appeal to you the most.
The first app I tried was Forest for Android. Before some astute Forest fans have roasted me in the comments, yes, Forest is also available on iOS. Unlike Android, however, you have to pay for Forest on your iPhone, which is a shame. I would like to cover both versions of the app in this piece, but it's not uncommon to find free Android apps that offer counterparts in the iOS App Store.
But I stray. Forest on Android was really a unique way to start my Pomodoro journey. This is how it works. During every Pomodoro I would "plant" a tree. I started with a young tree and saw it grow slowly during my 25-minute session. Nice is not it? Here's the thing – if I left the app before the Pomodoro was over, the sapling would die . Poof, no extra lives, gone. I should live with the blood (juice?) On my hands and try another Pomodoro session in shame.
Betraying a Pomodoro does not have to be that dark. While my sapling would always die if I left the app, Forest gave me the option to donate a fixed amount each time a session was interrupted. That money would not only encourage me to stay at work (is that Twitter check really worth $ 5?), It goes directly to planting real trees in the places they need most.
So, if there was nothing else, I could feel a little better about cheating with my Pomodoros. Full openness, I didn't trust myself not to keep the app constantly out of muscle memory, so I didn't link any real money to it. False boom murder was more than enough of a motivator to keep me going.
Every time I finished a Pomodoro, I not only planted a tree, but also earned coins. These coins can be used to purchase various things in and out of the app. For example, I could use coins to buy new trees to plant for the forest, because you only start with one basic tree to choose from. However, I could also choose to plant coins in the real world, so I wouldn't think the only way to make an impact is to make my Pomodoro fail and pay out of my own pocket.
The power of the forest lies in the design and the mission. It's nice to keep Forest next to your workspace on and watch the cute animations as your tree grows. It helps to combat the temptation to switch to another app, and I got a visible benefit at the end of it all. It was great to work on a quick article as my tree grew, and my break became more peaceful by knowing that I brought this digital world to life.
Where Forest is not the strongest, is in more complicated use. I have several types of projects to work on all day. Some have irregular time estimates, such as researching and writing articles. Others are easier. Email, data entry and other similar tasks are split into 30-minute intervals, so I always know how long I spend on each of them.
For the latter, Forest was a no-brainer. Every Pomodoro almost takes care of my 30 minute tasks and once done there is a new tree! But for my more unpredictable tasks, Forest basically forced me to go somewhere else to keep track of what I was doing. I had to use a notes app to show how long that article finally cost me, even more if I was someone who wanted to keep track of how much Pomodoros costs a task.
All said and done, Forest is really fun and effective way to continue working. I could see myself using the app after the review, especially because one day wasn't enough to unlock more trees or to donate my coins to planting real ones. That said, I eventually grew 12 trees during my day!
Let me just say it – Focus To-Do is the powerhouse of the Pomodoro apps. This is mainly because it is not a Pomodoro-exclusive app. Instead, Focus To-Do is a fully-fledged task management complete with folders, due dates, reminders, data graphs and reports. If complicated apps aren't your thing, you might want to avoid them.
Remember that my only problem with Forest was that I couldn't follow different tasks in the app? Focus To-Do is a completely different situation. The app gave me all the tools I needed to keep track of my various tasks. I could create different folders for as many categories of work as needed. Email, article heights, articles to do, data entry, these are all categories that I could work with. In each I could add my tasks to work on. For example, under a folder like "Articles To-Do", I could place all my assignments, like all five of my Pages 101 articles.