If you have ever looked up time management techniques or work and study productivity tips, you probably came across the concept of the Pomodoro Technique at least once.
As an active member of the productivity community, I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique countless times. Although nowadays I usually go for the time blocking method, the Pomodoro is a great way to get started in the time management journey.
This popular time management strategy requires you to alternate focused work sessions (the pomodoros) with regular short breaks to enhance prolonged attention and prevent mental weariness. It can significantly improve concentration and productivity and become a new method for addressing your never-ending to-do list.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The official Pomodoro Technique is all about working for 25 minutes and taking a break for 5 minutes. Its main advantage is that it considers our need for pauses, perfectly balancing productivity with counter-productivity.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management approach that encourages individuals to work with rather than against the time they have. The intervals between each work session are known as pomodoros, and you take a lengthier rest of around 15 to 20 minutes after roughly four pomodoros.
Francesco Cirillo, a university student at the time, invented the Pomodoro Technique in the 1980s. He needed help focusing on his academics and completing his work, so he started by dedicating 10-minute sessions to study. Once he discovered the tomato-shaped kitchen timer (hence pomodoro), the Pomodoro Technique was ready.
The timer creates a sense of urgency, which is the strategy’s objective. Instead of feeling like you have a limitless amount of time in the workday to get things done and then wasting valuable time on distractions, 25 minutes must be enough to complete a task or get close to finishing it.
How can Pomodoro help you?
The Pomodoro Technique is for everyone, especially the ones who have the habit of procrastinating and postponing responsibilities. It is when you feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do and usually do nothing. The Pomodoro helps you start with bite-sized pieces to get everything done.
People who are easily distracted also greatly benefit from the Pomodoro because it is 25 minutes of intense focus and concentration. Working with breaks helps you make sure you keep energized throughout the whole day.
The Pomodoro Technique will be fit for you if you:
- Struggle with distractions too often.
- Overwork yourself without any significant accomplishments.
- Have a long to-do list filled with overdue and unfinished assignments.
- Are excessively enthusiastic about how much you can do in a day.
- Work best with gamified methods.
Master the Pomodoro Technique in 6 steps
The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most straightforward productivity methods out there. It doesn’t get much different than working for 25 minutes and resting for 5, but here are five steps to help you get started:
1. Choose the task that you want to get done. It can be anything from a project with several subtasks to one single big assignment.
2. Set a timer to 25 minutes. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the classical tomato timer, but it would certainly make your work session more fun.
3. Work on the chosen task until the timer goes off. No distractions are allowed: no snooping at your phone, daydreaming, or staring off into space. Markdown a pomodoro to keep a record of your progress once the 25 minutes are up.
4. Take a 5-minute break after one successful pomodoro. Repeat the whole process until you complete four pomodoros.
5. After completing four pomodoros, there’s a gift for you: enjoy an extended 15-30 minute break.
Extra step: Use an app like Akiflow to plan your tasks for the day and keep track of your progress.
Proficiency comes with practice, so you’ll need a few pomodoros to get in the zone and forget about distractions. Repeat the sequence of pomodoros again and again until you complete your tasks and can call it a day!
Making the Pomodoro Technique more effective
Although the method itself is already efficacious, there are a few tips and tricks that can make it even more successful.
1. Turn big projects into small actionable tasks.
Start by breaking down the projects you think will take the most time. If it requires more than one pomodoro, consider deconstructing it into smaller steps. Doing so will make work seem more manageable and less overwhelming.
2. Combine a set of small tasks in one pomodoro.
Not all tasks require 25 minutes to get done. List all the little assignments you could do in one sitting and plan to complete them in one work session.
3. The pomodoro is only completed when the timer rings.
Once you decide on which task to work on and set the timer, you can only change tasks or stop working once the timer is off. Not even checking your email or looking notifications up is allowed.
If you have an idea or remember something, you need to tackle, write it down and assess it later. Context switching is one of the main problems Pomodoro tries to solve.
However, if you have no choice but to deal with an interruption, take your five-minute break earlier and restart the pomodoro.
Now, Cirillo was mindful of the distractions that would happen because of the untimely calls, invites, etc. He suggested that, if your coworker wants to schedule a last-minute meeting in the middle of your pomodoro, for example, do this:
- Inform. Tell them you’re busy working on something.
- Negotiate. Fix a time when you’ll be able to get back to them on it.
- Schedule. Schedule it immediately!
- Call back. Call them back when you’re done, and keep your word!
The Pomodoro technique is one of the most popular productivity techniques and one of my favorites because of its flexibility. Moreover, it teaches us to race with time rather than against it.
A little personal hack: Organize slots on your Akiflow calendar and start the timer following every single step of the pomodoro technique. If you like, you can also use the pomodoro for time blocking.