Pomodoro is a productivity technique invented by consultant Francisco Cirillo. It has been used by more than 2 million students, workers, or managers who wanted to better manage their work time and significantly increase their work capacity.
This technique, which we detail here, allows those who follow it to become more productive and avoid wasting time.
What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
Pomodoro is a time management technique that is based on a sequence of work periods separated by short breaks. Each period of 25 minutes, called a Pomodoro, is respected thanks to the use of a timer.
How Does This Technique Work?
The Pomodoro method works like “timeboxing”, a time management method that is also close to the scrum and agile methods. It is necessary to define a precise time to achieve one’s objectives or tasks and to focus exclusively on this one.
We can understand that by differentiating the moments of work and those of distraction in a precise way, we will be able to help our brain to better differentiate between the two and avoid dispersing ourselves in one or the other activity.
The Pomodoro method is nowadays quite related to computer development or marketing, but it works for all sectors of activity that require moments of concentration and creation. On the web, it is sometimes considered in some articles as a “productivity hack” or a massive tool to fight procrastination.
The most important thing is to see the method as a tool to educate your brain to understand that there is a difference between moments of work and concentration and relaxation. It is exactly the same education that we impose on our bodies when children go from a bottle every 3 hours to 3 meals a day.
It should be accepted that this method is not effective for all jobs. For example, it is perfectly suitable for creative people, but not at all suitable for jobs that are in contact with the public or where you do not have control over the schedule.
Pomodoro: The Many Benefits.
There are many benefits to the Pomodoro method that can be attributed to the imposed time pressure.
First of all, knowing that the action you are doing has an end will allow you to better apprehend it, but also to concentrate efficiently: you have given a clear objective to your brain. In order for it to understand all the issues, it must add a quality constraint and a time constraint.
There is also a much more understandable action which is the pleasure of accomplished duty. If you are sure that the task you have assigned yourself will be finished at the end of the next 25 minutes, you will be highly motivated to put this block of work behind you, but you will also anticipate the pleasure of having accomplished something quantifiable.
In addition to the extra motivation, it keeps you looking back on what you’ve done, and looking back on each of those days with a sense of pride.
There is a hidden benefit that concerns some of you, by reducing to 25 minutes the periods of concentration and therefore immobility, many people will see a marked improvement in their back or neck pain, which was related to maintaining the position too long.
For those who never finish anything because of their perfectionist mindset, the Pomodoro method can be liberating. Since the task must be finished in the allotted time, there is no need to dwell on your production for hours. This does not mean that the quality of your work will be degraded, but that you will have to get used to finally finishing your assignments.
The History Of Pomodoro.
In order to understand the technique, it is necessary to go back to its creation. Francesco Cirillo was not always the Berlin-based developer and consultant we know! When he was a student in Italy in the 80s, he had a problem that we all knew during those years.
Increased procrastination and above all a lot of distractions and other frivolities at disposal. The classes were interesting, but the days were very long.
In response to these problems, Cirillo wanted to create smaller blocks of work, so that he could stay focused all day. To do this, he used the tomato-shaped timer that was lying around in his small kitchen.
This is how the method found its name (Pomodoro means tomatoes in Italian) but also a large number of users. After spreading on the campus, many IT professionals eager for a productivity method followed the example.
5 Steps To Master The Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro technique is quite simple, no need to write books on the subject: you just have to segment your work into a series of sequences with clear objectives.
1 – Create a To-do List.
First of all, you will take the time to list everything you have to do in the day or in the next few hours on a single list, which you will divide into different tasks or work blocks. The objective is to prioritize the list of tasks and to make sure that these blocks correspond to about 25 minutes of work.
2 – Set Your Timer For 25 Minutes.
Next, you will use a timer to create intense work sequences of 25 minutes, during which it is totally forbidden to work or think about anything other than the action you have decided to perform beforehand. This will cut out all distractions and clear your mind of distracting thoughts.
3 – Write Down Each End Of The Sprint.
Once the 25 minutes are over, stop the timer and make a small cross in a corner of the paper or on your hand.
4 – Take A 5-Minute Break Between Each Sprint.
For the first three crosses, you must pause for 5 minutes before putting the timer back in the same position as in step 1.
5 – After 4 Sprints In A Row: Make A Big Break Of 25 Minutes.
At the 4th cross, the pause widens and you have to take a 15 minutes pause.
To summarize, doing a full Pomodoro cycle takes two hours (25 minutes + 5 minutes x4), and each cycle should be 15 or 20 minutes apart. During the work periods, it should be totally impossible to get distracted. And during breaks, you really need to clear your mind.
Some Additional Instructions.
Here is some additional information to fully master your Pomodoro:
Plan Your Tasks Properly.
An important point is to remember the importance of planning a Pomodoro. When you divide your tasks, you should choose a goal that can be completed in 25 minutes, this will allow you to get the most out of the solution as you will have a very clear view of what is accomplished throughout the day.
If you have finished an activity while the Pomodoro is not finished, then you should implement the overlearning technique: work on your topic over the remaining minutes, to perfect your production or learn more about the topic in question.
Keep track of how long it took you to complete each task compared to the time you were given, this will help you be much more efficient in planning your next sessions.
In the same way, you surely know the moments of the day when you are the most productive, it is in these moments that you have to schedule your most important Pomodoro. It is absolutely essential to have the motivation to finish your task, as difficult as it is, in the time allotted.
Cut Yourself Off From The World: Zero Distractions.
Finally, the biggest problem remains that of outside distraction or wandering thoughts, especially the first few times you try to apply this method. Think about moving to a place of work that will allow for absolute quiet during your Pomodoro.
We notice that the main factors of deconcentration in the office are emails, so don’t hesitate to cut off notifications and specify to your collaborators that the phone is to be reserved for emergencies, at least on certain days.
If you can’t afford to cut off all communication, then don’t hesitate to propose to your interlocutor to talk about it at a more appropriate time. You can use a multi-step technique that will remove the problem:
- Inform the person that you are in the middle of an important task.
- Suggest a time to discuss it.
- Remind or send a message at the end of the Pomodoro to validate the date of the exchange.
At the same time, all the “internal” distractions are numerous!
If you suddenly remember another task to be done urgently, a great idea for a new project, or to improve your current task, need to check a piece of information: write it down in a corner to come back to it later.
At the end of the session, you can read your “distraction notes” again. The ones that are really urgent can be planned for the next session, otherwise, add them to your classic to-do before filing them before your next Pomodoro session.
Deviating From The Rule/Variant.
There is no real variant of the Pomodoro technique, but nothing prevents you from working in a framework that suits you more than this one. You can customize your tools and create your own version, for example, switch to 35-minute sequences if that suits your way of working more.
The important thing is to work on short sequences as this study shows.
In the same way, for those who would be well concentrated, on a good momentum, and would like to continue without stopping, this is obviously possible if you feel well, but don’t forget that your brain needs regular rest to keep all its capacities and that this is provided in a sequential way by this technique.
If you can’t move forward during your Pomodoro because of a lack of inspiration or understanding, you should go to the end of the whole sequence and move forward as you can. Indeed this method is also a discipline of the brain that you will not have by giving up at the first difficulty!
Some Tips On This Technique.
We give you a few tips on how to best achieve this concentration technique.
- Devote a sufficient number of sessions to your “top priority” (writing if you are a writer, drawing if you are an illustrator, etc.) rather than to other tasks.
- Do some stretching during break times!
- Doing a little housework or sorting your books is always better for airing out your brain than social networking or playing a game on your phone.
- Don’t make yourself a coffee every 25 minutes!
- Remember to look at the work done at the end of the day and congratulate yourself.
- Don’t feel too guilty if you haven’t finished all your tasks for the day and put them off until tomorrow, the intention also counts in this case.
- Don’t hesitate to use personalized tools (timer) for your sessions.
The Best “Pomodoro Timer” Applications.
The Basic Timer.
So how do you time your Pomodoro properly? Francesco Cirillo used the tomato timer in his kitchen, and purists will easily find the original timer on Amazon. We have to warn you right away: the sound of the seconds ticking by doesn’t really help you concentrate.
However, if you want a physical object, you can fall back on analog timers without noise, which will allow you to see at a glance your progress in the Pomodoro. Amazon also offers a wide range of these, but they don’t really look like a tomato.
If you are working on your computer you can use several tools and applications that will be very effective to stay focused.
The most used tool is a Google Chrome extension “Strict Workflow”. It allows you to configure the duration of Pomodoro at your convenience and to warn you by a ringtone of the work and rest times. The little extra is that it allows you to ban certain URLs during work periods. This avoids going on social networks or news sites!
Marinara Timer is an online tool that allows you to set up three timers: a Pomodoro, a personalized one, and a classic kitchen timer. It’s simple and efficient, there’s nothing to install, and works perfectly in its tab.
The little extra compared to other timers on the web, is that it allows you to send your timer through a URL, for example to your collaborators not to be disturbed or synchronize you.
Some people prefer to use their phone (which sometimes needs to be put on airplane mode for the more distracted), and in this case, many applications work perfectly.
Sorry for Android users as it is only available on iPhone, our favorite application is Focus Keeper as it is the one that comes closest to the traditional experience, and not only because of its red background that reminds of tomatoes.
More than anything else, in this version it is possible to completely customize your sessions, ringtones, and notifications.
The only drawback is that you can’t give a name to your Pomodoro, so you must have noted elsewhere what you need to work on!
The last solution you will love is available on all platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac), it’s called Focus To-Do: Pomodoro Timer & To-Do List. This long name also says a lot about all the features that are offered by this application.
Not only are your sessions fully customizable, but there is also the possibility to rename them, categorize them and group them into projects. It’s a great scheduling tool.
Don’t miss the “forest” feature that game style to use a bit: if you don’t complete the daily challenges, your plant dies. It’s a way to create extra motivation.
For those who just want to try the technique, the timer application on your phone should be perfectly suitable for the first sessions.
Thanks to this technique you will surely learn more about yourself and the way you prefer to work: this is the most important. Many people who had difficulties with new ways of concentrating or sometimes too complicated methods have positive opinions about Pomodoro, which gives simple keys to building good habits.
Whether you use it for classes, writing your books, or developing applications for smartphones, don’t hesitate to share your opinions about the explanations in this article and your beginnings with this method!