What’s inside this article: An overview of the Pomodoro method and how to use it, how and why it works, variations of this time management technique.
The Pomodoro Method is a productivity technique that involves breaking down tasks into 25 minute time blocked called “Pomodoros”.
Between each Pomodoro, there is a 5-minute break, and after 4 Pomodoros, you take a longer break, usually 30 minutes.
In theory, this strategy works because you completely focus on one task without shifting focus or multitasking.
This technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late ’80s because he used a tomato shape timer to manage his time.
During a Pomodoro, you ignore the urge to check email, hop on Facebook, answer text messages, or do any other distracting activity.
You’re in the zone and completely focused.
How to use the Pomodoro Method
The core process of the Pomodoro Technique consists of 6 steps: (francescocirillo.com)
1. Choose a Task: Decide on one specific task you’ll be working on during the Pomodoro
2. Set the timer for 25 minutes
3. Work on the task until the timer rings
4. When the timer rings, put a checkmark on your paper (printable at the end of this post)
5. Take a short break
6. Once you complete 4 Pomodoros, take a 20-30 minute break before beginning the next round.
As you plan your day, you estimate how many Pomodoros each task of your to-do list will take and decide when, and how much, to work on each task.
Why Breaks Are So Important
The brain uses neurotransmitters to send messages across pathways. When doing the same task for a period of time, those transmitters begin to deplete. The brain needs time to produce more.
Shifting to a completely different activity, by taking a short break, engages a different region of the brain and different transmitters, and allows the now resting region of the brain to replenish its supply.
Research shows that these short breaks allow regions of the brain that are blocked by stress or high-intensity work to revitalize.
Time Management & The Pomodoro Method
So many people struggle with time management and productivity.
Does your day disappear as you click from email to blog post to social media to text messages – and all of a sudden you feel like you’ve got nothing done? You know you are wasting time.
The Pomodoro Technique teaches you how to stay productive and eliminate distractions that are killing your productivity.
This technique is especially helpful for those who work from home, where many feel it’s easier to become distracted than the office.
Benefits of Using the Pomodoro Method
- Cuts down on interruptions – You won’t be simultaneously checking your e-mails, social media accounts, phone, etc while you’re working which is where the majority of interruptions originate
- Improve motivation – The short time frame of a Pomodoro means you’ll be completing them, checking off tasks, and feeling more productive. That feeling of boosted productivity is motivating.
- Reduce errors in your work – Most errors are made because we were interrupted or distracted from our work by some other task, causing us to lose track of exactly what we were doing, leading to mistakes.
- Meet deadlines with less pressure – Once you’ve got the hang of things, it’s easy to estimate how many Pomodoro’s a task will take to complete. Then, rather than rushing to meet deadlines, you can complete projects in small, efficient blocks of time.
- Reduce the complexity of your goals – Breaking down your goals into actionable tasks and working toward them in Pomodoros simplifies the process of achieving your goals.
- Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused – You’ll regularly get to enjoy those few minutes to yourself where you can do what you want, without it interfering with your work.
Apps for the Pomodoro Technique
All you really need is a timer, this could be a kitchen timer or the timer on your phone.
However, there are also apps out there that are specifically for using the Pomodoro method.
An app removes the need to divide up your day manually instead, it tells you exactly when to work and when to take a short break.
You can find various free apps in the app store by search Pomodoro Technique.
One popular app is the Pomodone App, which integrates with several different task management systems like Asana, Trello, Basecamp, etc.
Variations to the Pomodoro Technique
You can make variations to the Pomodoro technique that suits your own personal working style or your lifestyle.
You may prefer to work in long time blocks instead of 25 minutes, and if that’s the case choose a time block that works for you.
If you work from home and have kids, a 25-minute block without interruption may be next to impossible. Do what you can, when you can. Try to fit in uninterrupted Pomodoro’s in your daily routine. This could be in the morning, during the kids’ nap time, after they’ve gone to bed, etc.
With some practice, you’ll turn your jumble of to-do’s into a simple linear task list, clearly broken down into achievable blocks.