Master this technique that helps you stay focused and get things done, and you'll cross off all the items on your to-do list in no time at all.

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Created by Berlin-based businessman Francesco Crillo nearly 20 years ago, The Pomodoro Technique is resurfacing as the best way to stay on task. Set a timer for 25 minutes, he says, to focus on the task at hand, and then take a five-minute break before starting another 25-minute session. After four 25-minute sessions, take a longer break before starting the cycle again. The theory is that by working in manageable bursts of time with rest in between, we can become more productive and focused.

While it’s great for staying focused at work, Real Simple staffers have used the technique in plenty of other creative and effective ways. Associate Digital Editor Liz Steelman uses it to keep on track with her book club: “When I have a book to finish and can’t let myself fall asleep right away, I use the pomodoro method.” Senior Fashion Editor Rebecca Daly, on the other hand, used it during her move. “The mountain of boxes to unpack seemed like an impossible task, but doing it in short bursts made the task so much more manageable,” she says.

Whether you use an old-fashioned kitchen timer (The tomato version Crillo used is what inspired the official name of the technique—“pomodoro” is tomato in Italian.) or a countdown app, give this method a try. If you’re interested in learning more about the technique, The Pomodoro Technique will be published in book form later this year.

Now it’s time to get to work!