How many of us have a pile of stuff that we just can’t get sorted?  I’m overwhelmed by 3 boxes of unsorted papers in a corner of my office.  I wonder every day if there is anything valuable in those boxes. Looking at them tires me out and I ignore them for another week. 

Similarly, friends Pete & Sue have a shed filled with old garden tools and feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing it.  My neighbour Linda has a corner in the lower level of her house piled high with outgrown family clothes, school supplies, and sports equipment in disarray.

Do you share a similar feeling of “I don’t know where to start”?

Many people have found the Pomodoro Method of an intense 30 minutes of activity helps them tackle their job.  The creator, Francesco Cirillo, uses a tomato shaped kitchen timer to accomplish tasks.  

The idea: Work on your tasks for a short, timed cycle of 25 minutes. 

Then take a 5-minute break before starting the next 25 minutes of task. 

After four of these cycles, your reward is a longer half-hour break.  

It’s as simple as that! 

I have adapted the method for my own downsizing.  I set my bright red alarm clock or my phone for 20 minutes. At the end of that time, I take 5 minutes to put away all that I have sorted.  I file, recycle, and shred for five minutes.  Where to Begin: Boxes for Many Directions helps with those choices.  

Then I take 5 minutes to do something totally different — a quick walk around the block or a cup of tea while watching birds at the feeder.

At the end of the half hour mark, I am back to cycle #2 of 30 minutes of downsizing.

That 5 minutes of placing sorted items in their new homes is crucial. By the end of my work period, the area I have cleared is neat and uncluttered. Success! 

Some people ask if setting a timer adds too much structure to a sorting job. Usually not.  Most people find the technique gives incentive with a time-limited focus and the promise of a break! 

Fast forward ahead: Those boxes have been a yoke around my neck for a year.  My office now feels more spacious! 

Pete & Sue have an organized shed and room to store the family’s bicycles. Linda has set up a craft corner in her cleared space. 

All because of a timer!

How might the Pomodoro Method or a variation work for you?