Executive Career Advice

Career Tips to Accelerate Your Career Success

Pomodoro, white noise and building forests – “new” ways of working effectively

There’s only one thing in the entire the entire Universe that has the ultimate value. It’s Time. A lot was said about Time. They say spend it wisely, don’t waste it. Time can limit us (timescales). It can stress us (deadlines). It can make us happy (free time). It can become our best ally if we learn the art of time management and effectiveness.


It’s a time- management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It’s one of the many methods we like when applied to career coaching. Circillo discovered that your effectiveness grows in proportion to the amount of tomatoes you consume in a given day. It’s a joke! Back to serious research. The main principle behind the technique is to work in blocks of time, typically 25 minutes long (called pomodoro sessions, followed by a 5-minute break. Each pomodoro session should demand your full attention on one task; every break requires you to step away from your work to rest. Pomodoro in English is tomato. It was named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student. This time management life hack will help you to power through distractions, hyper-focus and get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks to catch breath.

There are six steps in the technique:

  1. Choose your task.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes)
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings.
  4. After the timer rings put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.

White Noise

In really simple terms, white noise is a random signal containing many frequencies played at equal intensity. It’s omnipresent in an office. Phones ringing, murmur of conversations, paper shuffle can become a background orchestra that plays without intervals. It seems counter-intuitive, but adding more sound to an environment can actually make it seem quieter. Research suggests that noise itself isn’t distracting, but unwanted speech noise is. However, words that are incomprehensible are less likely to be distracting. By adding a continuous, low-level ambient sound to an environment (such as white noise, which sounds similar to the sound of airflow), sound masking can help make conversations for listeners that aren’t intended to hear them unintelligible, and therefore much easier to ignore.

Building Forests

One of the worst habits for destroying concentration and ruining quality time is constantly checking your smartphone / mobile phone. The phone becomes an extension of us. There’s so much going on in the cyber world. “I’m only checking the stock market” you may say, but how is it relevant to a task at hand? Curiosity killed the cat. In career coaching for example we advise always focussing on the task at hand, whether research or interview preparation.

Forest is an app that can help you reclaim your time and stay focused. Set how long you want this session to last, touch the “plant” button, and you’ll see a countdown timer start ticking, beneath a cartoon picture of a small seed. From then on it’s simple. Ignore your phone to allow the seed to grow into a tree. Each completed session will add another plant to your long-term “forest”.

Stay focused. Stay present. Keep building your forest every day, every single tree represents your focused time.

If you are interested in gaining new cutting-edge skills that will help you in your executive career & job search you can start here.

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