The Pomodoro Technique: How to Use it To Optimise Productivity

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Are you the kind of person who needs a deadline to finish a task? We have all been there, when we waited for the night before the due date to start working on our homework, when we started studying the night before an exam, when we added a finishing touch to a slide just a few hours before the presentation. Do you like to work under that “pressure“, which is not really pressure per se but a thing that peps you up? The Pomodoro Technique might work for you!


What is the Pomodoro technique?

It is a time management technique devised by an Italian man named Francesco Cirillo, in the 1980s.

It works along the following lines:

  • Decide upon the task.
  • Set up a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Work on the task with as much focus as you can for those 25 minutes.
  • When the timer ends, take a break for 2-3 minutes, and also make a note about that chunk of task you did.
  • If the task remains unfinished, reset the timer to 25 minutes, and repeat the process for three more times before taking a longer break of 15-20 minutes.

Basically, you work with full concentration for approximately 25 minutes, take a 2-3 minutes break, and repeat. If the task is likely to go on, take a 15-20 minute break after 4 such rounds.


The name of the technique has a somewhat idiosyncratic, but interesting origin story. The word “pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato”. Cirillo worked using a tomato shaped timer, and hence the name. One set of 25 minutes is called one pomodoro.

A timer is thus an important requirement. Of course, you don’t need to work with a tomato shaped timer. Any timer would do. (Although, working with a tomato shaped timer does sound fun…)



  • As it is evident, the Pomodoro Technique is the way to go for people who love to work with deadlines, and those who would otherwise procrastinate until the last minute.
  • The constant ticking of the timer can boost you to actually finish the task. Haven’t we all worked almost miraculously fast when we have a flight to catch?
  • The division in chunks, and the 2-3 minute break can help us work mindfully. The small breather is just what one needs to not over-work.
  • Plus, there is the longer 15-20 break which can aid you to refresh your mind in between your “work” time. This can boost creativity, problem solving and strategising.
  • The Pomodoro Technique is great if you want to add a sense of rhythm to your to-do list or an overall bigger task
  • Due to the timer and the chunking, the technique can help one accomplish a seemingly humongous task, the kind of task when we aren’t sure where we should begin from.


Not that there aren’t any problems…

  • For people who like to work at their own pace, this method can put unnecessary pressure. It can actually divert the attention from the task to the ticking timer. The pro becomes the con.
  • The method is pretty good for administrative and managerial tasks, and tasks involving paperwork. It might not work too well where there is a need for undivided attention, like research, analyses, mathematical tasks, etc.
  • The 25 minutes should ideally be uninterrupted. But in a much more realistic sense, can we expect that? Phones, emails, faxes are common “interruptions” in an office. Imagine you have just got into the “zone” and as you are beginning to catch your rhythm, you get an important client’s phone call.

The method thus isn’t too ideal for multi-tasking.


As many critics of the method  point out, does one really need a timer to pay attention to a task one is trained to do? Of course, the answer could be that it depends from person to person. The debate goes on.

But, the Pomodoro Technique can come in handy when you are looking for the pace to pick up. So, are you ready to compete…with the timer?

Tips for Constructing an ATS-friendly Resume

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Technology has made our lives easier and simpler. But it still isn’t at a stage to perceive complexities which a human eye effortlessly sees. One aspect where this ease minus complexity is evident is the Applicants Tracking System, or abbreviated as ATS. Why should you construct an ATS-friendly resume?

The Applicant Tracking System, as the name suggests, is a computerised automated system that tracks or goes through the details of the numerous resumes a company receives. The system then picks the ones which are deemed to be suitable for further scrutiny by the hiring manager/employers. The ATS has its own technical criteria, and forwards only those resumes which are found to be a match.

Thus between your application and the hiring manager, is the ATS.

  • On the bright side, the ATS can be helpful in tracking really good resumes. But a less pleasant thing is that some really good candidates with not so ATS-friendly resumes unfairly may miss the boat.
  • It saves times and labour, but leaves no space for human judgment.

Fortunately, crafting an ATS-friendly resume isn’t that different from crafting a concise, crisp ‘normal’ human targeted resume.



Keywords are important, even in a ‘normal’ resume.

But they gain a special importance when it comes to ATS.

The ATS scans specifically for keywords and certain phrases. Hence it is really important to insert some of these key words and phrases found on the job description. It makes your resume extremely ‘readable’ for the ATS.

But don’t go overboard and stuff your resume with all the keywords possible. The ATS will be able to detect the overuse!



We really mean it. Spell-check like you are writing something which will never be erased, like it’s going to be carved on stone for generations to see.

Since the ATS looks for keywords and phrases, it is necessary to make sure those keywords and phrases have the perfect spelling.

ATS can look through minor typos like computr-computer.

But it might not be able to look through major typos. A typo like weak-week would be perceptible to a human being- one would know it’s just a spelling mistake when you say “I spent four weaks in…”

The ATS may not be able to place the typo in such a context.


Keep it Really, Really Simple:

ATS can’t detect creativity. Hence it is necessary to keep everything as simple and straightforward as possible.

Pre-ATS, it was necessary to use neat and legible formatting. This becomes all the more important with the ATS.

It is a good idea to use standard fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and avoid the  temptation to display some creativity.

ATS demands everything standardised. Hence the layout should also be regular and nothing fancy. The sections should also be named simply, clearly telling what they would contain: skills, education, qualifications, professional experience, etc,.

Don’t use graphics, most ATS softwares are not that image-friendly.


Converting the Not So ATS-friendly to ATS-friendly:

A lot of us like to begin with a “Career Objective” section. Unfortunately, that is not very ATS friendly introduction.

As an alternative, it is a good idea to begin with a summary that tells about your qualifications, major achievements, skills, etc. No longer than around five-six sentences or bullet-points.

This is a fantastic way to insert keywords for the ATS. Plus, when the resume goes further to the human assessor, it would give a quick glance of your qualifications right at the beginning.


A few other key points…

  • Use the acronym as well as the full form of words, so the ATS would catch the words, no matter whether it is programmed to scan the latter or the former.
  • Use a text document, like Word. Generally, image files are not ATS-friendly. Try to not even use PDF because certain systems will see PDF files as a whole image.
  • Do not put important information on headers and footers.

If you think the ATS-friendly resume would make you come across as too mechanised or robotic in the eyes of human assessor, it is a good idea to find out if the company you are applying at is likely to use ATS or not, and if yes, you can undertake a research about the various ATS softwares used, to tailor things to perfection.

Human or no human, everyone likes a neat, crisp, informative resume, right?

Tips to Keep in Mind for Online Applications

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Sending in job applications has never been easier. Gone are the days when one had to wait for days for the envelope to reach the destination by post. Unforeseen delays could well make you miss the application deadline. Now, it’s a matter of a few clicks. It’s the era of online applications and soft-copies. When to send, whom to send is all under the applicant’s control. But that doesn’t mean it’s not prone to errors. Online applications, much like offline ones, can get ignored.

You send out an online job application. You wait eagerly for a call or an email, but there’s no response. Does this situation sound familiar? Have you been in one, or do you know someone who has told you a similar story?

There are a couple of scenarios you can find yourself in when it comes to online applications. Perhaps you weren’t an exact match and you took a chance. Perhaps they found a better application and the call went there. In both cases, it wasn’t really your fault. It was just your luck.

In a third scenario, it was perhaps a silly mistake you made in the application process.

What are some mistakes you should never make while sending out an online application? Read on to find out.


  • Bad Online Habits:

One obvious but major reason why an online application may have been ignored is poor email etiquettes.

The name of the email address from which the application has been sent, to whom has the email been sent, what has been written in the subject line, the greeting, and the way the email itself has been written plays a role here.

The email address should sound professional. It is a bad idea to send out an application from an address like “”. Believe it or not, there are people who still use their email id’s created during their teens.

The subject line should clearly indicate the purpose of your email. Is there something specific they have asked to write in the subject line? Check the ad for such specifications.

Who is supposed to be the recipient? Is there a particular person who is going to be addressed here? Do you know the exact spelling and the pronoun? If not, it is a good idea to keep the greeting neutral or general.


  • Using SMS Jargon:

One major blunder while drafting online applications is using online web jargon, or the SMS jargon. Avoid using abbreviations, or shortened spellings. For example, “you” should not be written as “u”, “time” should not be written as “tym”. Whether you are using a phone to send in the email or a computer, make sure ‘u do nt spl lyk dis’.


  • Not Following the Steps:

Are you sending the application to the exact email mentioned? Are you supposed to attach any other document except the resume, like a cover letter, some kind of a form, or a proof?

Make sure you follow the exact procedure as described in the ad/job posting.

Not following procedures and instructions might suggest you aren’t taking the application process seriously, or that you aren’t really being careful about the smaller details. Moreover, your application might not even get noticed if you end up sending it to the wrong email address.


  • Sending Multiple Applications for Different Positions at the Same Company:

Who wouldn’t want to utilise the convenience of email and effortlessly send multiple applications? But remember, sending in your online application to multiple people in the company can land you in not-so-good books of the company management.

It is not wrong to apply for more than one position if you want to take chances. But sending in applications for too many positions at the same company, in one go can make you come across as indecisive and as someone who isn’t taking any field seriously.

Unless it is specified that multiple applications from the same applicant for multiple positions are welcomed, and unless they are relevant to the field, it is a bad idea to send multiple online applications for multiple positions at the same company.


  • Not Customising the CV and Cover letter:

Even in an offline application, it is a bad idea to send a generic, copy-pasted resume and cover letter.

But when it comes to online applications and email communication, the fact that one has sent a generic application can become clear if one isn’t careful. Especially if one makes a blunder like CC-ing the application to multiple companies; a full list of every company one has applied to, on full display!

There are the usual basics to be followed here as well: nicely typed out resumes, with readable fonts, no grammatical errors and concise details. Online applications, while a very easy way out, can also get daunting. Email writing isn’t something many people are comfortable with. Amidst the younger generation that specialises in texting, and the older generation habituated to offline applications, the email-centric online application for a job is a tricky process, and one that is prone to silly mistakes.

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in An Interview

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Have you ever been asked to tell a bit about yourself during an interview? Have you felt yourself going blank as you get asked this question? Have you found yourself entirely clueless?

Going completely quiet as one gets asked “can you tell me something about yourself?” is more common than you think. In that one moment, it is as if people forget everything they have accomplished in their life.

We bring you some tips to keep in mind while you prepare for an interview, so that when you do get asked the question, you have some great things to say.

Firstly, Why is the Question so Tough to Answer:

Answers to questions which require you to talk about your strengths, weaknesses, your experience, your CV can be memorised.

A question like “tell me about yourself” no doubt, can have rehearsed answers. But it is still a very unstructured question, which requires you to pick just the right things to talk about. We are left wondering what exactly does the interviewer want to hear. That is what makes it tricky.

Here are some tips.


  • Prepare Well:

Not with a word to word rehearsed answer, but going to an interview, with a loose script in mind is a good idea. In other words, going to an interview with the answer to the following questions in mind is a good idea.

  1. What is my educational background?
  2. What is my career background?
  3. What qualities make me stand out from other candidates?
  4. What are my interests and aspirations?
  5. Why am I a good fit for the company?

Collectively, the answers to these questions are a response to the bigger question “can you tell me about yourself?” .


  • The Resume Trick:

Common wisdom says it is not a good idea to simply summarise your resume. Besides, the question “can you walk me through your CV?” is there to fill that role.

However, you can use the relevant detail from your resume as a reference, and then use it as a way to talk about yourself.

For example, one can say something like:
“As you can see, my resume shows I have experience in IT, and you might be wondering why I decided to apply for this managerial position. Well, I have always considered myself a…”


  • The Quality Check:

Now comes the core of the answer.

When you are asked a question like this, you can talk about an instance which highlights a couple of your qualities. Beginning by giving some context as mentioned in the previous point, you can then talk about those qualities, followed by a specific example.

Here, your quick-thinking plays a role: you choose the example, and the quality according to the company culture, the position and other requirements of the job.

Does the position require you to be a good administrator? Sharp critical thinking skills? Great interpersonal skills? Good communication skills?

So, when you prepare for your interview, also think about this, and then try to recall a time when you displayed the quality.

But, wait, what if you are applying at a position from a different industry? How does one choose an example then? Wouldn’t that become irrelevant?

The answer is no. The example would not be considered irrelevant if you tailor it in a particular way, which highlights the quality, and not just the technicalities.


But what if you don’t have experience? How does one choose an example then?

One need not choose an example from just the professional field. Unpaid experiences count. Remarkable incidents and achievements garnered from extra- and co-curricular- activities one did as a student, volunteering, charity work, community/social service can also be used as examples to talk about the relevant qualities.


Remember, the purpose of the question is to get an idea about how much you understand about the requirements of the position: the qualities you require to handle the tasks successfully.


  • What Not to Do:
  1. Do not go off track.
  2. Do not use too many fillers like “well”, “umm”, “okay”, “so”.
  3. Do not start talking about awkward personal details.
  4. Do not parrot what’s written in your CV and cover-letter
  5. Do not make it too long.
  6. Do not ask “what do you want to hear?”


So now, the next time you find yourself faced with “tell me about yourself”, you will actually have things to talk about!

The Art of Keeping Your CV Updated

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Do you suddenly find yourself frantically updating your CV, hours before you decide to apply somewhere? Have silly mistakes and typos embarrassed you in the past? Do you spend an enormous amount of time racking your brain, trying to remember your recent accomplishments?

Keeping such situations in mind, it is a good practice to keep the CV updated.

But we all know our lives are busy. It is difficult to keep things that way.

But it is not a very difficult task to keep a rough track record of your professional activities, so when the time comes to update and re-tailor your CV, you exactly know what you need to add.

How does one make the tracking process an easy process?

Firstly, you need to find a convenient mode of documentation:

  • One of the best, and the easiest way to keep a rough track is the good old notebook or diary. Scribble away from time to time what you want to add in your CV the next time you want to update it.
  • Of course, you can also make use of technology. A draft of an email where you add notes about the updates, or an app on your mobile phone which helps you maintain a list, a computer document, among other things are some “online” ways to you can keep a rough track in.
  • A very convenient option is to keep a “rough” version of your CV, where you enter details as they happen, without worrying about the neatness or format of the document.


Next, you must know what all you must keep a track of. What should you note down in your diary/rough document?

This can depend on your field of work. But generally, the following activities should be tracked and noted:

Skills: Notes about seminars and workshops attended, new skills acquired obviously would help you sharpen the hard skills section of your CV.

Awards/Certificates/Praises: An obvious thing you’d want to add. The praises can be helpful to hone your “soft-skills” section. (For example, when someone calls you a quick decision-maker; the “quick decision-making” can be considered a soft-skill.)

Important projects and tasks, and how you accomplished them: Notes about these can help you answer certain generic interview questions.

Remarkable interactions with co-workers: Notes about these can help you add some soft-skills on your CV.


When you have a list, a rough draft, the only task you would have is actually organise and accommodate the new information in your CV. Imagine how quick and easy the process can become!

As mentioned above, keeping a rough track this way can also help you answer some generic interview questions. Since you have been keeping a track on regular basis, everything would be fresh in your mind. As a result, when asked about something, you wouldn’t have to spend too much time thinking what to say, and moreover, you would be able to articulate everything in a much better way.

Wouldn’t keeping a track help you answer the following questions much more confidently?:

  • “What is your greatest strength?”
  • “Describe how you overcame a difficult project or situation at work.”
  • “Do you work well with other people? Can you give me an example?”
  • And most importantly, “can you walk me through your CV?”


Keeping a rough track of your activities is thus an under-rated way of tailoring an impeccable CV.