Want to Be as Productive as Possible? Try the Pomodoro Technique

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iStock

No matter what your job, chances are, you probably could be making better use of your time. If you really want to be more productive, but don’t know where to start, you should start out small. Try the Pomodoro Technique, a popular, simple time management system that can help you focus on the task at hand.

The Pomodoro Technique “changed my workday—and ultimately, my life,” entrepreneur Chris Winfield wrote on the Buffer Open blog. He’s not the only one. It’s one of the most popular time management systems out there, for good reason.

The method was developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, then a university student. He published a book about the system in 2006, and now works as a productivity consultant.

His technique is popular in part because it’s so simple. The concept is this: When you sit down to complete a task, set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on that single task continuously for that time period, without pausing for interruptions or breaks—which means no Facebook, no email, and no trips to the bathroom. If you have a thought you need to return to, just write it down, then keep working. When that 25 minutes is up, give yourself a five-minute break. You did it! If you can, complete this cycle four times, then take a longer break of 30 or so minutes.

During that 25-minute period of work time, you’ll probably be surprised by how many times your attention wanders, and how often you have the urge to give in to the distraction. "Surely I can answer one email," you’ll think. "What about just a quick Twitter break?" But the beauty of the timer is that not only do you have a small, manageable goal to work toward—those few minutes of uninterrupted productivity—but you can see your progress and keep yourself accountable as your timer winds down.

There’s some science to support the technique, too. Studies have found that brief breaks help improve focus. By giving yourself a bit of a reprieve, you’re making yourself a better worker.

And if someone interrupts you during your Pomodoro time? Pause the clock. Try to negotiate a time when you can get to their concern, whether that’s returning their phone call or scheduling a meeting for later. If it can’t wait, you’ll need to reset your timer.

There are several Pomodoro apps and sites to help you out on your productivity journey. You can use websites like TomatoTimer, or download an app like focus booster. But you don’t need to spend any money on it. Any timer will do just fine.

If 25 minutes feels like too short of a period to get anything done, try another proven productivity timeline: work for 52 minutes, then break for 17. Good luck. Your to-do list will thank you.

[h/t Buffer]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]