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What is the Pomodoro Technique and What Are Its Benefits?

By Orgesta Tolaj


5 October 2023

man focusing on laptop using pomodoro technique

© Nubelson Fernandes / Unsplash

Ah yes, our good old friend also known as procrastination. No matter how hard we try to do our best and focus on a specific task, our friend decides to shift our focus to something else. Well, what can we possibly do to tell our friend that they have surpassed their welcome? There is actually a way out of the situation, without hurting anyone’s feelings. This is also known as the Pomodoro technique. But, what exactly is this technique and how can you benefit from it? Let’s find out together!

What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that was created and developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 80s. The technique is designed to improve productivity and focus by breaking work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. The technique is named after the Italian word for “tomato” because Cirillo initially used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (a Pomodoro timer) when he developed the method.

How the Pomodoro Technique Was Developed

The Pomodoro Technique was created in 1987 by Francesco Cirillo. As a university student facing difficulties in concentrating on his studies, Cirillo devised this method. As briefly mentioned earlier, he began with a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, known as a “Pomodoro” in Italian, and initially set it for just a 2-minute period, challenging himself to maintain focus during that brief span.

woman coding
© ThisIsEngineering / Pexels

When he observed positive results, Cirillo extended the timer to longer intervals, discovering that a 25-minute work interval followed by a 5-minute break was most effective for maintaining concentration. He experimented with various time intervals and concluded that 10-minute intervals were too short, while hour-long periods without breaks were too lengthy for productive work. This process led to the development of the Pomodoro Technique.

Principles of the Pomodoro Technique

The key principles behind the Pomodoro Technique are:

  • Timeboxing

Breaking work into short, focused intervals helps prevent burnout and maintain concentration. In Timeboxing, work is divided into specific, manageable time intervals (usually 25 minutes), known as “Pomodoros.” This timeboxing encourages focused and efficient work.

  • The “two-minute rule”

If you think of a task that will take less than two minutes to complete during a Pomodoro, do it immediately. This way, you will get rid of it as soon as possible, so you can start focusing on more detailed and complex tasks instead.

  • Record-keeping

Keep a log of the tasks you complete during each Pomodoro to track your progress and improve your estimation of task durations. After each Pomodoro, you record what you accomplished and make notes about any distractions or interruptions. This helps improve future time estimates and task planning.

  • Regular breaks

Short breaks help you stay refreshed and maintain your productivity over longer periods. After each Pomodoro, there is a short break (typically 5 minutes) to rest and recharge. Longer breaks (15-30 minutes) are taken after completing a set of Pomodoros (usually four).

How Does the Pomodoro Technique Work?

It is actually as easy as one-two-three! Well, more like one to five. Here is how the technique typically works:

  1. First, you need to choose a task you want to work on.
  2. Next, you can set a timer for 25 minutes (this is known as a “Pomodoro”).
  3. Afterward, you can work on the task with full focus until the timer rings.
  4. When the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break to rest and recharge.
  5. After completing four Pomodoros (four 25-minute work intervals), take a longer break of around 15-30 minutes.

How to Get Started With the Pomodoro Technique

Here are some tips for effectively implementing the Pomodoro technique:

  • Make the Timer Your Best Friend

Employ a timer to keep you on track and ensure you don’t exceed your designated intervals. You can use a traditional kitchen timer or a timer app on your phone. Some web browsers also offer Pomodoro timer extensions.

  • Task Organization

Prioritize your daily tasks and estimate how many Pomodoro intervals each task requires. Break down complex tasks into smaller, manageable chunks that fit within Pomodoro intervals.

  • Use Your Breaks to the Fullest

Use your break time wisely by hydrating, having a snack, stretching, meditating briefly, or taking a short walk. These activities help rejuvenate your mind, preparing you for productive work when the break ends.

  • Interval Customization

If the standard 25-minute Pomodoro intervals or 5-minute breaks don’t suit your preferences, feel free to adjust the timings to better match your needs. The core idea is to allocate focused work periods with intermittent breaks for mental refreshment. Timers with customizable intervals and breaks are sometimes known as “marinara timers.”

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity method that offers many perks:

Makes Focusing on Tasks Easier

It helps overcome procrastination by breaking tasks into small, manageable steps. Rather than facing a daunting project, you start with a tiny, unintimidating task. For example, instead of writing a whole novel, you write for just 5 minutes. This approach makes it easier to begin work.

Helps With Distractions

In today’s digital world, distractions abound. The Pomodoro Technique combats distractions by dedicating short, focused intervals (Pomodoros) to specific tasks. It discourages self-inflicted interruptions and encourages sustained attention.

Gives You Time Awareness

It addresses the planning fallacy, where people underestimate the time required for tasks. By using Pomodoros as concrete units of time and effort, you gain a more realistic perspective on time, helping you plan and estimate tasks more accurately.

Raises Productivity

The technique gamifies work by turning each Pomodoro into an opportunity for improvement. You aim for consistency and gradually increase your productivity. This approach fosters motivation and a sense of accomplishment.

Reduces Stress Levels

The Pomodoro technique offers a structured framework for managing your work time effectively. When you have a looming deadline, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious about completing your tasks on time.

Cons of the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique, while effective for many, has some drawbacks to consider:

  • Rigidity

The fixed 25-minute work intervals and 5-minute breaks may feel too structured for some individuals, potentially causing discomfort or resistance to the method’s strict timing.

  • Stress with Time Limits

If a task takes longer to complete than the designated Pomodoro interval, it can create stress and pressure to finish within the time frame.

  • Task Completion

On the flip side, if you complete a task before the Pomodoro interval ends, you might be unsure about how to utilize the remaining time, potentially disrupting your workflow.

  • External Interruptions

The technique doesn’t account for external interruptions beyond your control, such as unexpected tasks or demands from colleagues, which can disrupt the Pomodoro flow.

Does the Pomodoro Technique Really Work?

Yes, the Pomodoro Technique is a widely recognized and effective time management method for improving productivity and focus. Many individuals find it helpful in managing their time, avoiding procrastination, and enhancing their overall efficiency.

However, like any productivity technique, its effectiveness can vary from person to person. Some individuals may find it suits their working style and enhances their productivity, while others may prefer different approaches. It’s essential to experiment and adjust the technique to match your preferences and specific work requirements.

Have you ever tried the Pomodoro technique before? Did it benefit you, or do you prefer other focusing methods instead? Let us know in the comments below!

You might also want to read: How To Design A Functional Home Office Like A Pro

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!