The Pomodoro method is the pop star among productivity techniques. It is simple, yet brilliantly effective. And you can use it for almost any kind of task.
So let’s find out what the Pomodoro technique is, how it works and how you can use it to skyrocket your personal productivity!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
How does Pomodoro work?
The way the Pomodoro method works is really simple. The basic ideas it to take the work you have and divide it into smaller time intervals. Between each of these work intervals, you also schedule a short break.
How do you use a Pomodoro timer?
To help you stick with these intervals, you use a so-called “Pomodoro timer”. Basically, your kitchen timer or whatever you have on hand that can work as such. Set it to the length of your work interval and then start working on your task. As long as the timer is ticking, no other things can be done.
When the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper. Then set the timer to the length of your short break and allow yourself a few moments of relaxation. And then you start the whole cycle all over again.
4 cycles of this are one set. And after one set or 4 cycles, you take a longer break.
How much time is a Pomodoro?
One Pomodoro, so one work interval, is usually 25 minutes long, followed by a break of 3-5 minutes. When you take a longer break after one set of Pomodoros, the break can be 15-30 minutes long.
When you start using the Pomodoro method, stick with the suggested time. As you become more and more secure, try a different length of Pomodoros. Some types of tasks might need longer focus intervals than others.
I usually use a Pomodoro length of 45-50 minutes, followed by a 5-10 minute break. And researchers at the Florida State University found that high performers usually practice in uninterrupted sessions of 90 minutes max.
What does Pomodoro technique mean?
You might be wondering at this point where the Pomodoro method got its name from. After all, it might just as well be the “interval-work-technique”, right?
Well, the creator of this time-management technique, Francesco Cirillo, happens to be Italian. And when he invented this method in the late 1980s, mobile phones and apps weren’t a thing yet. He really did use his tomato-shaped kitchen timer to time his work intervals. And guess what the Italian word for tomato is? You guessed it, it’s Pomodoro!
Why does the Pomodoro method work?
So why should setting a timer for your work help you be more productive? Does it really make a difference?
It turns out, that the timer is really key to the effectiveness of the method. Even the ticking does something. It creates a sense of urgency and keeps your focus on the fact that it’s work time.
The Pomodoro technique trains your brain for focus. It helps you to avoid procrastination and distraction.
And not only not only the work intervals but also the breaks play a very important role.
Getting productive for 25 minutes and then getting a break is a reward for your brain. Obviously, your brain loves rewards. And when your brain likes something, it wants more of it. Guess what that means? Your brain is priming itself for more productivity! Awesome, isn’t it?
How do you use Pomodoro effectively?
In order to use the Pomodoro method effectively, there are just a few things for you to consider.
First of all, make sure to plan out your day before you start. Write down what you want to do, prioritize it and estimate how long each task will take you.
Also, make it a point to write down the Pomodoros you complete. This helps with two things:
- It gives you a sense of accomplishment. Whenever you want to change a behavior for the better, make sure to really get that feeling of accomplishment. Remember, it trains your brain!
- You actually can see how long things take you. Over time, you will get better and better at planning your day, simply by seeing your productivity every day.
Don’t accept interruptions of a Pomodoro
To get to that elusive flow state it is really essential to focus. So put away all possible distractions before you start.
And whenever a possible interruption comes along, no matter if it’s mental or external, simply write it down. Then go back to work.
If you are struggling with certain websites (ahem, Facebook!), consider using an app like RescueTime*. It tracks where you spend time and the premium version even allows you blocking certain pages.
What is the best Pomodoro app?
Unlike the time when Francesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro method, people now rarely use kitchen timers anymore. (Actually, I do. The ticking is just great to remind me that there is something cooking.)
So they use their phone instead, to time their Pomodoros. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of great Pomodoro apps out there. You will have to find out for yourself which one is your favorite. Many of them don’t only give you a timer, but various added features as well.
To give you an impression, check out these examples of Pomodoro apps and their main features.
ForestApp gamifies the Pomodoro method.
Whenever you set a timer, you start growing a virtual tree. If you take a call, answer messages or do anything else with your phone while the timer is active, your tree dies. But while you keep working on your task and let your phone be, the tree grows in your virtual forest.
While being productive, you can earn virtual coins in the app. When you spend those on planting real trees, the company behind the app donates to an organization that plants trees in real life. Awesome, isn’t it?
Tomatoes is a web app, so you can use it directly in your browser, on your computer or laptop. It might not look like much when you go to the website. But it would perfectly do the job.
And if you decide to create an account, you can actually see how you compare to the rest of the Tomatoes users. There are leaderboards for different time spans. So if you are a little competitive, this could be a great motivation to finish more Pomodoros.
Pomodoro.cc is also a web app. I personally really like the clean look of it. Nothing distracting around. And you can type in the tasks you want to do and check them off when you finish them.
While I personally usually use my bullet journal for tasks lists, I don’t always carry it with me. For occasions like that, Pomodoro.cc is a great alternative, as it combines the task list with the Pomodoro timer.
How do you like the Pomodoro method?
Have you tried the Pomodoro technique already? Or do you prefer other time management techniques? How does it work for you? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!