What is it?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that helps you boost your productivity and get more done in less time.

The technique was originally developed by Francesco Cirillo while he was a university student looking to get more done in less time.[1]

The story goes that Cirillo felt confused while being a student; he felt that he didn’t know what he was doing and that he had been wasting his time. He found out by comparing himself to his classmates that the many distractions and interruptions and low levels of concentration were the root of his confusion, which led him to make a bet with himself; “Can you study — really study — for 10 minutes?”.

Cirillo then set a timer for those 10 minutes. A fun fact about the Pomodoro Technique is that each interval is called a Pomodoro, which is the Italian word for tomato. The name stems from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used because he needed an objective measuring device to prove that he could study for 10 minutes straight.

He didn’t win the bet at first but eventually succeeded. And this led to the creation and development of the Pomodoro Technique.[2]

Why does it work?

I’ve previously written about doing ‘Zero Distraction Work’, but I’ll say it again here. Distractions are one of the killers of productivity. And as Cirillo states, the Pomodoro Technique helps you “Enhance focus and concentration by cutting down on interruptions” [2], which is one of the key reasons why the method works so well.

I won’t delve deep into why doing Zero Distraction Work is as important as it is, so you can read more about it here if you want to — including 4 additional habits will that help you succeed in life.

Another reason why the Pomodoro Technique works is because of the timer itself. Timing your work makes you focus on the task at hand; it keeps you accountable. I’ve also written about tracking time before. I am a huge proponent of tracking your time because “what get’s measured, gets managed”.More often than not, you’re very likely to overestimate the amount of time that you’re actually working, and tracking your time spent being productive is one of the best ways to increase that productive-time.

How does it work?

The basic process is as follows.[3]

  1. Choose a task that you’d like to finish — this is the task to which you will devote your full attention for 25 minutes.
  2. Set the Pomodoro (timer) for 25 minutes.
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro (timer) rings.
  4. Take a short break for five minutes.
  5. Every four pomodoros you take a longer break for 15 to 30 minutes.

What if I finish my task before the Pomodoro ends?

Say you devote yourself to spending (at least) 25 minutes on the given task. If you finish the task in, say, 3.5 pomodoros, what do you do with the remaining half Pomodoro?

In those cases — and trust me, it happens — you’d devote the remaining time to ‘overwork’ on the task. If your task was to study a specific chapter, and you happen to finish studying with time remaining, you’d spend the remaining time processing the material and trying to understand it even better than you already do.

Can I do more than 25 minutes?

Of course. Pomodoros can last longer than 25 minutes. Some do 30 minutes, others do 45, or even 1 hour. That all depends on the individual using the technique. You can also do smaller intervals, which is incredibly helpful if you are tired or fatigued. Try to experiment and find what works best for you.

Personal experience

As I stated above, I track my time a lot. I use the principles behind the Pomodoro Technique for this, meaning that I usually do my work in Pomodoro intervals, however, when I’m in the flow state, I’ll blow past 25-minute timer. Personally, the 25 minutes act more like a minimum amount of time spent, rather than a definite deadline.

I use the Toggl time tracker for all of my time tracking needs, and Toggl has an in-built Pomodoro feature which also lets you customize your Pomodoro duration.

Sources

[1] Francesco Cirillo | Cirillo Consulting GmbH. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2019, from https://francescocirillo.com/pages/francesco-cirillo

[2] Gobbo, F., & Vaccari, M. (2007). The Pomodoro Technique. Retrieved from http://baomee.info/pdf/technique/1.pdf

[3] The Pomodoro Technique® — proudly developed by Francesco Cirillo | Cirillo Consulting GmbH. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2019, from https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique