When I started using the free and proven Pomodoro Technique, my focus and productivity improved drastically. Most times, high-focus work requires serious discipline that is easy to procrastinate — especially in today’s fast-paced world of constant social media and interruptions. The Pomodoro Technique is a proven technique to accomplish high-focus tasks such as writing, studying, cleaning & organizing, and other challenging work tasks.
Pomodoro Technique in a nutshell
Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato.” The Pomodoro Technique was named after those old tomato-shaped kitchen timers. Why?
The Pomodoro Technique involves:
- Setting a timer for 25-minute focused work periods followed by
- 5-minute breaks
Read on to find out how to use the simple Pomodoro technique to be WAY more productive (and feel great about what you’ve accomplished)!
Online Pomodoro Technique Timer
Bookmark (or Pin) this page if you want to use an online timer for your 25-Minute Pomodoro work sessions.
Best Pomodoro Technique Timer
If you prefer a physical timer, this is my personal favorite productivity tool – The XRES Digital Kitchen Timer.
I even taped a little quote on my Pomodoro timer to remind me about the power of focus:
Genius is 1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that improves productivity using:
- Focused work time and
- Break intervals
The Pomodoro Technique is also known as the Pomodoro method.
How was the Pomodoro Technique Invented?
The technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. As a student then, he struggled to complete assignments and to focus on his studies. To remedy the situation, he resolved to discipline himself for just 10 minutes and focus on his studies.
In order to track time, he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to countdown timer. He would then reward himself with short breaks after each session to ease off. That was how the Pomodoro Technique was invented and has since been optimized for better outputs.
How the Pomodoro Technique Works
The Pomodoro Method hinges on three major factors:
- Focus time (usually 25 minutes)
- Short break intervals (usually 5 minutes)
- Longer break interval (20-30 minutes)
The basic idea is to work with intense focus for short time intervals with breaks in-between. The work time is usually 25 minutes, with a 5 minutes break coming after each work session.
Rules of the Pomodoro Technique
To maximize the effectiveness of this technique, some conventional rules will help improve effectiveness:
- Break down projects into smaller tasks. If the task you have at hand seems complex, breaking it into smaller chunks will bring more clarity to it.
- Small tasks can be combined in one session. You can merge as many tasks if they are too small to take up the whole session time. However, it is recommended to take the tasks one at a time.
- Ignore distractions during the focus period. Each session is seen as an indivisible unit of time, so no interruption is allowed.
- I occasionally jot down thoughts of “urgent” items so I can ignore them and revisit them later.
Steps Involved In The Pomodoro Technique
#1. Pick A Task
Before you begin, you must prepare a to-do list. Rank the tasks according to their importance and urgency.
Pick a task that you want to accomplish in a session. One session is usually called a Pomodoro (Italian name for tomato).
It is highly recommended that you avoid multitasking for this technique. This is so that you can maintain focus on one particular task and avoid distractions.
#2. Set A Timer for 25 Minutes
Using your favorite timing tool, set a timer for 25 minutes. This 25-minute interval is considered one single time unit and so should not be interrupted. You can use timer tools with features such as alarms, light notifications, etc.
Pomodoro Technique Timer – Online or Physical
- You can use the timer on your phone/watch
- I’ve included an online digital Pomodoro timer above.
- I prefer a physical timer that is separate from my phone. This is my personal favorite productivity tool – The XRES Digital Kitchen Timer. The timer sits in front of me on my desk. 99% of the deep work I do is during a 25-minute Pomodoro session.
#3. Focus And Work On The Task Until The Timer Rings
This is where the strength of the technique lies – to be able to work without distraction for the set time. If you’re a phone or social media freak, you may have to put your phone on airplane mode. That way, you will not be tempted at all to respond to calls, chats, or even emails.
Each Pomodoro is just 25 minutes, so you need to make the most out of it. Concentrate as much as you can. After all, your break is still waiting for you after each session.
#4. Tick Off Your First Session
It is important that you keep a record of your Pomodoro sessions and the tasks accomplished in them. It helps you track your progress and gives a sense of accomplishment too.
Pomodoro Technique Alternative: Using Objects to Measure Work Sessions
Another idea is to move four objects from one container to another. I am a mom of three boys, so Hot Wheels cars are the most readily available item in my house. 😄 I can move one car into the jar each time I complete a work session. Once the jar is full of four cars, I’m ready to reward myself with a longer break!
#5. Take A Break For 5 Minutes
The short 5-minute breaks help release some stress. You may:
- Take a walk
- Have a cup of tea
- Do some other stuff to relax your brain.
Keeping away from social media during these short breaks may help you stay focused for all four Pomodoro sessions (before your longer 20-30 minute break). Doing highly addictive tasks during these short breaks may make it difficult to regain full focus even after the short break. Also, avoid challenging tasks during your breaks – the goal is to ease off stress and not to add more.
#6. Repeat The Steps 4 Times
Go over the Pomodoro sessions up to 4 times, making one complete round.
Four 25-minute sessions with absolute focus are enough time to accomplish something tangible. Remember, the short break intervals also help regulate the tempo for maximum productivity.
#7. Take A 20-30 Minute Longer Break
After one complete round of 4 Pomodoro sessions, you can take a longer break.
You can maximize this time to rest more properly or attend to other pressing needs.
After your long break, you can continue your next round and take as many rounds as possible.
Why the Pomodoro Technique is Effective
- Eliminating Distractions
One of the greatest strengths of the Pomodoro Technique is the focus. If you can avoid distractions for 25 minutes straight, you can achieve much within a shorter time.
- Sense of Urgency
Using a timer comes with a sense of urgency that keeps you motivated to complete your task. The 25-minute deadline puts you under a healthy pressure to maximize each session. You always have the impression that there is not enough time.
- Encouragement From Tracking Progress
Knowing that you’re making progress can be quite very encouraging. Progress made during a focused 25-minute session is more satisfying than working for hours (with varying focus) and only ending because you’re burned out.
How To Make Pomodoro Technique More Effective
When it comes to time management, different approaches work for different people. Here are some tips to help you personalize the technique to work best for you.
- Schedule the sessions into your best productive hours.
- Tweak the durations to suit your capacity.
- For instance, you can work for 50 minutes instead of 25 and break for 10 minutes instead of 5.
- Find the best way to remove distractions.
- One person might need to switch off their phone completely, while another may just need to put it on Silent mode.
- I have to close other web browser tabs (email, social media) to avoid the temptation to click on them.
If you apply the Pomodoro Technique in your daily routines, you will enjoy the satisfaction of greater productivity. Although the technique has recommended practices and timeframes, there is no “one size fits all”. The goal is to gain focus and manage time properly. So, as long as you’re achieving this purpose, you can do what works best for you.