I have never liked tomatoes. Raw tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes on pizza, tomato sauce, anything with tomatoes I have always found absolutely disgusting. But this summer, I learned how tomatoes, a food enemy of mine, could make me a more productive employee and bring people together.
Each day of my internship, my supervisor set up Morning Coffee Check-Ins for myself, the other Teen JUST-US Interns, and the other interns working at YW Boston at the time. During these meetings, we would meet other employees and hear about their positions, do a community-building activity, or some other kind of professional development. These meetings quickly became my favorite part of the day because they gave me a chance to connect with my coworkers and have a structured start to my day.
Above all, the most memorable lesson I learned at these meetings was about tomatoes. Well, not exactly tomatoes. More like a time management strategy named after a tomato-shaped clock.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system where you set an intention, work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Once you have completed 3 or 4 of these cycles, you can take a longer break. Maybe 20-30 minutes. Each interval is called a pomodoro meaning “tomato” in Italian because the inventor of this technique, Francesco Cirillo, used a tomato-shaped clock as his timer.
I used this technique every day of my internship to help me keep focused and on track during individual work time. As a remote intern, it was often difficult to stay motivated when I was alone in my bedroom, but the Pomodoro Technique kept me engaged. After setting a goal and completing it, I felt accomplished and it pushed me to work harder. After completing 3 or 4 cycles, I could proudly look back at the work I had finished without feeling stressed about the work still remaining.
At YW, we even had a channel on Microsoft Teams specifically dedicated to the Pomodoro Technique. One person would post, “Anyone want to do a pom?” and immediately coworkers would come together to complete an interval. We would each share our goals, one person would start the timer, and after 25 minutes we would come back and share how we did. When one of us completed our goal, we congratulated each other with fun emojis and GIFS and if you didn’t complete your goal, encouraging messages were always on the way. I always knew that someone, whether another intern, my supervisor, or another employee I hadn’t met yet, would be there to talk or help me when I needed it. From behind our computer screens, we were able to connect and create community all because of the Pomodoro Technique.
Although my love for the Pomodoro Technique has not changed my opinions on the actual fruit, the lessons, support, and community I have gained at YW Boston is something I will take with me for years to come.