Pomodoro Technique and How to Nurture It
07 Sep 2023 • 6 min read
As technology advances, we are distracted by more things than ever, and it is getting harder to draw a strict line between work and free time.
Take a look around your desk, you will probably see at least a dozen physical and virtual elements that distract you. Working from your home office definitely amplifies your inner voice, which tells you: "Talk to your friends," "This email could be extremely important!", "Aren't you hungry?". Such distractions cost the global economy billions of dollars as, according to a recent study, almost 80% of an average workday is spent on activities with low value.
Fortunately, there are several time management techniques offering help to make ourselves more effective while working. One of the most acknowledged among them is the Pomodoro technique – the best approach to using tomatoes for effective time management.
What is the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a method with a single goal in mind: giving a valid, realistic timeframe in which you can focus, while also allowing you to have regular, yet controlled breaks.
Pomodoro is a time management method invented by Italian gentleman Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. According to Cirillo, he first developed the technique while he was a university student struggling to stay focused and productive. One day, he used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro in Italian) to break his work into 25-minute intervals, with short breaks in between. He found that this method helped him stay focused and get more work done.
Cirillo continued to refine the technique and eventually published a book about it in 2006, titled "The Pomodoro Technique". Today, the Pomodoro Technique has become a popular time management tool, used by people in various industries and professions.
How to Use Pomodoro Technique
The essence of the Pomodoro technique is to do only one task intensively and focused for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. The simplicity of this method is its strength:
- Choose tasks to work on today.
- Set estimate Pomodoros (1 = 25min of work) for each task.
- Pick a task to start with.
- Take away all distracting gadgets, apps, and tabs.
- Set up a 25-minute timer (if you need more time that's totally fine, you can choose 30, 40, or 60 minutes intervals).
- Focus on the task until the time is up.
- When your session ends, mark off one Pomodoro and record what you completed.
- Take a break for 5 minutes for a short walk, make yourself a cup of tea, or meditate.
- After every 3-4 Pomodoros, take a longer 20-30 minute break.
And it's okay to sip a cup of coffee during a 25-minute Pomodoro session, it's best to have it prepared beforehand. This way, you won't have to interrupt your focus and break your momentum by getting up to make or retrieve it
What Makes Pomodoro Method Effective
Despite using tomatoes to represent units of time, which may seem silly, the Pomodoro Technique is actually very effective in helping people be more productive. Here are some specific reasons why this method is helpful for getting things done.
Easy to Start With
You do not need to populate page-long matrixes, nor estimate all the work for the whole week. It cannot be simpler! There are Pomodoro timer app solutions that don’t even require registration, making it super-easy to kick off.
Helps to Avoid Multitasking
Continuous task-switching, regardless of how good you are in multitasking, heavily affects performance. A study by researcher Laura Bowman at Central Connecticut State University sheds light on what happens during a nowadays standard example of task-switching. Students who used Facebook Messenger while reading a textbook took 25% longer to read the same part (excluding time spent on chatting) than students who only used their time reading. The results clearly showed that the quality of performance deteriorates when concentrating on multiple tasks “simultaneously”.
By working for a set period of time (usually 25 minutes), followed by a short break, you avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and reduce the likelihood of putting tasks off until later. The sense of accomplishment after completing each Pomodoro interval can motivate you to continue working on their tasks. Additionally, the Journal of Graduate Medical Education published a study that shows that breaking down tasks to the smallest possible parts helps the brain to see them as easy-to-solve tasks, which eventually will hold back procrastination tendencies.
Helps your Body
Just use part of the 5-min long pauses to move and flex your back, hip, arms, and legs. Changing the focus distance of your eyes once in a while, aka not looking at your monitor constantly, also helps to keep them healthier.
How to Improve Productivity with Pomodoro Technique
To make better use of the Pomodoro method check out a few tips on how to nurture this technique to achieve your best self.
Use To-Do Lists
Pomodoro is not simply about pushing a timer or using an app: the number one rule to this technique is to have well-prepared tasks at hand. If you have larger projects, break them down into the smallest parts that you can do. An example: writing an article is a complex project with a lot of research and creative penning. Putting simply “writing an article” on the to-do list is ineffective because it is hard to know how much time and what resources are needed. If you break it down into smaller elements like researching the topic, finding statistics, writing a catchy intro, etc. - that helps your brain to see the big picture and prioritize correctly.
Organize your Tasks Into Pomodoros (Tomatoes)
These little tomato timeframes should include as many tasks you can handle in a 25-minute long round. The experience will make you better at estimating the right amounts, however, you can do an educated guess if you have done the project breakdown correctly.
Focus, Focus, and Focus
Your 25-minute-long Pomodoros should be done with only one thing in mind: finishing your tasks. This might sound too strict at first, but these timeframes are designed in the exact length of an average worker’s/student’s concentration capacity in mind. No emails, no Messenger, and other chats, only your favorite music and the tasks you prepared for yourself.
Use the Advantage of Technology
Whether you're a student, a freelancer, or a busy professional, with pomodoro technique app, you can stay on track, increase your efficiency, and achieve your goals in less time than you ever thought possible.
The key benefits of using a Pomodoro app is that it can help you to eliminate distractions and stay focused on your work. By setting specific time limits for each task, you can create a sense of urgency that motivates you to work more efficiently and avoid procrastination.
Incorporating the Pomodoro technique into your daily schedule can develop your ability to concentrate and increase your productivity.
One possible trick to strengthen your commitment to the Pomodoro method is to include a daily task in your itinerary to schedule your "pomodoros" and then try to complete a certain quota of them each day. When the day is over, take a few minutes to reflect on your progress and identify potential areas to improve your focusing abilities in the future.
With continuous practice and diligence, you can train your brain to maintain focus and therefore get more done in less time.
Why are the Pomodoro technique intervals 25 minutes long?
The Pomodoro technique intervals could be 25-minutes, however, you can also set up your own time periods. Rather than a 25 minute focus period, you could work in 45, 60, or 90-minute blocks. 25 minutes could be the perfect length of time to help you be productive, create urgency, not procrastinate, and help you stay focused on any task you are tackling.
Moreover, you could find natural time markers in your life, like the break between meetings, the time until your partner comes home, or the time until the dishwasher finishes. Use these to define focus periods and tailor the principles of the Pomodoro Technique to better suit your personal working style.
How many Pomodoros can you do in a day?
It all depends on you, how much you have to do, what focus-time period you choose (25/45/60 minutes), and how fun the work is. From our experience, using 25 minute intervals, performing 12 Pomodoros would be a really good day, and 16 would be just spectacular.
What do you do during the 5-minute break?
The best option would be to create your own list of things you can do during the break, and have the list somewhere convenient for you to check on the list. It really helps to prevent falling into the unproductive habit of scrolling social media. Here are some ideas from us, but it's still super individual depending on what you do, where you work, and your environment:
- Take a short walk
- Do breathing exercises/meditate
- Do a quick yoga routine
- Make yourself a cup of tea, coffee, or just water
- Declutter your space
- Make yourself a snack
- Fold laundry or throw a load of laundry into the washer
- Empty the dishwasher
- Do some food preparation for lunch or dinner
Does the Pomodoro technique really work?
While I was searching for the best Pomodoro timer app, and writing this article, I received 5 messages on Facebook Messenger, 3 Instagram likes and got 16 emails. On a normal day, I would have rushed to open and check them out, but today I’ve used Pomofocus to be able to honestly review whether Pomodoro is more than a myth or not.
Before knowing anything about it, I often used other techniques intuitively, and what I can confirm is that Pomodoro works. There is no holy grail, but there are many Pomodoro technique app solutions to nurture. I’ve found Pomofocus the most effective, as it was the easiest to set up. Check out any of the apps above and use them for your advantage to make yourself the best self.