Blog The Pomodoro Technique: What it is and how to use it

The Pomodoro Technique: What it is and how to use it

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In late 1980, a university student named Francesco Cirillo struggled to focus on his studies and complete his assignments. Frustrated, he decided to do something about his procrastination and committed himself to 10 minutes of focused study time. Inspired by the idea, he found a tomato-shaped kitchen timer - pomodoro in Italian - to time his focus time. He developed this technique further, and went on to write a book about it later, naming it the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ after the tomato-shaped timer.

This cyclic technique can empower you to change your working habits for the better, to develop deep focus, and get the work done in short intervals known as ‘Pomodoros’. The Pomodoro Technique sounds like fun (and it can be if you enjoy gamifying your focus), but above all – it's really simple.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make to-do list and get your timer ready
  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single task until the timer rings.
  3. Mark off one Pomodoro and record the completed task
  4. Enjoy a short break (5 minutes)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes)

Tips for making the most of the technique

  • Combine small tasks that require less than one Pomodoro together.
  • Break down a complex task that requires more than 5-7 Pomodoros into smaller actionable steps.
  • If you finish a task before the timer goes off, the 25 minutes rule still applies. Use the remaining time to brainstorm, conduct research, read professional articles or tackle low-priority tasks.
  • Once the timer is set, do not break focus! Don’t check emails, messages, headlines, teams chat etc. Keep focused on the Pomodoro task. If a disruption cannot be avoided, take your 5 minute break and start over.
  • Make sure you do not plan to complete more than 16 Pomodoros in an 8 hour workday.
  • Plan 2-4 overflow Pomodoros for tasks that take more time than anticipated. If everything goes according to plan, use the overflow Pomodoros to tackle low-priority tasks.
  • Extend the 25 minute rule if it suits your workflow better, but don’t forget to extend the break accordingly.

You can read more on how to plan your time here on our blog: 12 tips to improve your time management at work.

You can use the all in-one Pomodoro Technique app that integrates with Microsoft, Apple, Google, Trello and more. You can create your to-do list here, set the time for Pomodoro and break duration, and define the goal for the day.

Why does the Pomodoro Technique work?

The Pomodoro Technique works so well because the task that you are procrastinating on will be fractioned in small manageable parts, and after a short break you return to it refreshed and motivated by seeing the progress you made. The frequent breaks give you space to deal with distractions such as mobile phone notifications, small talk, having a snack and to relax, so that you can deeply focus on the task during the Pomodoro. Your work will be efficient and of better quality. With each Pomodoro, it gets better, and you will gain more awareness about the way you really spend your time. The best idea is to try it and find out for yourself whether it is working for you.

Is the Pomodoro Technique effective?

The answer is... yes! By applying this technique, you can learn to estimate the time a task takes more accurately. You can work faster, your attention span and ability to focus will stretch over time and your ability to prioritize tasks will improve. You can find out about a handy method of prioritizing your time in our article on the Eisenhower matrix.

Pomodoro Technique pros and cons

Like any organizational technique, there are pros and cons to the Pomodoro Technique. Take a look at them to help you decide whether this technique might benefit you or not.

Pros

  • It’s simple
  • Help beat procrastination
  • Learn to estimate time realistically
  • Stay focused
  • It’s free (if you use an online timer, but otherwise all you need is another kind of timer).
  • Decrease frustration and stress

Cons

  • It can feel restrictive
  • Resetting the timer can be disruptive
  • Some people need more time to get into deep focus state, meaning the 25 minute interval can be counter-productive, as the workflow is interrupted. Adjustments to the Pomodoro would be necessary in order not to skip breaks.

Although researching time management can ironically be a time waster in and of itself, it’s still a good idea to know what methods are available and might suit your workflow best. If the Pomodoro technique doesn’t work out for you, there are other methods and tools that can help you manage your time and work efficiently.

Read on: How to master your time management.

For better time management across your whole company, a time tracking tool could present significant benefits. Get in touch with us to find out how Vault’s time tracking tools can help improve time management in your company.

 

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