Use "Pomodoro" to Increase Productivity

After reading the title, you might be wondering “What is a pomodoro (other than a tomato, in Italian)?” The technique was developed by an Italian called Francesco Cirillo. It’s a technique which uses timed intervals to encourage concentration on a single task, with regular breaks, and it’s named after the type of kitchen timer traditionally used with it.

Photo of a pomodoro timer

How do I use pomodori?

It’s a really simple idea, based on the fact that you can manage to do anything if you know you only have to do it for twenty-five minutes, and then you get a break. You get a timer of some sort, set it for twenty-five minutes, and work until it goes off. If you get seriously distracted, you have to start the timer again. Once the timer goes off, you get to take a five minute break.

Why is this useful?

It can be hard to sit down and just work until you finish something. Pomodori helps you break work periods into chunks of time, with breaks in between, so that it seems more manageable and even less tedious. It improves focus, and helps you manage your time so that you don't leave things to the last minute. After using it for a while, you’ll find that you’re completing your tasks more quickly than ever, because you’re more focused and structured.

Writing fifty product descriptions sounds like a huge task, but what about when you know it will only take you three pomodori at most to complete the whole thing? Suddenly, it’s much more manageable.

After every four pomodori, you get to take a longer, fifteen minute break. Trust me, you’ll have earned it!

How do I track my pomodori?

There are a lot of apps out there for tracking pomodori, including ones that keep a record for you so you can also use them to track how much time you’re spending on particular jobs.

  • For iOS: Pomodoro Timer, Pomodoro Keeper, Flat Tomato…
  • For Android: Clockwork Tomato, ClearFocus, Pomodroido…
  • For browsers: tomato.es, tomatoi.st, Strict Workflow (Chrome)…

A screenshot from tomato.es

(Screenshot from tomato.es)

It’s easy to find an app just by searching “pomodoro”, and most of them are free or have basic features free.

What can I use pomodori for?

Just about anything! It doesn’t matter what your task is, if it’s something you need to focus on, you can set a timer and work through it. Returning calls? Filing expenses? Writing invoices? Even tidying your desk? Or even writing articles, listing things on Ebay, dealing with tech support queries…

Whatever you need to do, set a timer and just do it. No need to wait for motivation – you can stop after twenty-five minutes, after all.

Do the breaks really help?

Yes! They give you a chance to get up and stretch, or do a small task which would normally be a distraction – like answering an email, or scheduling a meeting. It allows you to take a regularly scheduled break while remaining just as productive as usual, and you can save the little distractions up for your breaks without any guilt.

Does it have to be twenty-five minutes?

Most of the timers in apps are set to twenty-five minute intervals by default, but there’s no reason you can’t adapt them to suit your own attention span and needs. Experiment and figure out what works best for you!

Nicole Walters
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