With so many tasks and to-do items on your agenda, you might rightfully look for systems to boost your productivity and the Pomodoro technique ranks high among them.
If you’re struggling to maintain a focus when working, or want to end procrastination, this method can surely help you.
If by any chance, you still haven’t heard or tried out the Pomodoro method in your life, this post is perfect for you to get acquainted with it and start practicing it.
And, since there’s a lot to cover, let’s not waste any more time…
What is a Pomodoro technique
Here’s a little history first.
The Pomodoro technique was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo.
It is named after a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato.
(pomodoro is an Italian word for tomato 😉 )
However, this knowledge will not help you be more productive.
So, let’s talk about the important stuff.
How does this productivity technique work?
How to practice it?
The idea behind this method is to use smaller chunks of time, and during those moments you should focus only on a single task.
One such period of time is called a pomodoro, and it lasts for 25 minutes.
After one pomodoro, there’s a quick 5-minute break, and then the cycle continues three more times.
(you can even do some quick self-care activity during those 5 minutes, believe it or not)
When four pomodoros are done, a longer break of up to 30 minutes is applied.
At this point, you’re either done, or you repeat the same pattern all over again.
Here’s a quick mathematical overview for those who’d like to see it in numbers:
- 4 pomodoros = 4 x 25 min = 100 min = 1h 40 min
- 3 short breaks = 3 x 5 min = 15 min
- 1 long break = up to 30 min
Work time = 100 min
Breaks = 30 – 45 min
Total cycle time = 2h 10-25 min
Summary – schedule about 2 hours to complete all pomodoros.
Why you should practice the Pomodoro method
Now the question is – should you practice this technique or not?
My answer would be – you should most certainly at least try it out.
Here’s why I think this method can work for you.
First of all, it doesn’t last long.
Even though a full cycle is about two hours long, as you’ll see further in this post, you can do a single pomodoro and still be successful.
Secondly, it helps you start.
Sometimes, the hardest thing is to actually start.
There are a number of reasons why people procrastinate, but the bottom line remains the same.
Time goes by without giving you anything in return.
By starting the work, at the very least, you’ll move from ground zero.
Next, the Pomodoro technique can sharpen your focus.
It’s no secret today’s world and all of its modern gizmos and gadgets took a toll on our focus.
This method can gradually help you to get your focus back to its rightful place.
(more about this further down in this post)
Also, this technique can reduce the feeling of overwhelm.
By focusing only on a single task, a Pomodoro method forces your mind to stop thinking about everything else you might have.
Working one task at a time eventually cuts down your to-do list, and by reducing the workload you’ll feel less overwhelmed.
How to make the Pomodoro technique work for you
Although a traditional Pomodoro method is performed the way it’s described, no one says you can’t adapt it to your needs.
For instance, you might not have those two hours of absolutely distraction-free time.
(does anyone have it at all?)
I usually manage to do two pomodoros in a row until something shows up to disturb me.
It’s usually the case of false urgency.
Since I’m aware this is often the case, I try to be focused and fast when working.
And even if I don’t complete the whole task, I still got some part of it done.
I manage to do the rest at some point later in time.
The moral – one pomodoro by one and you will get the task done. 🙂
Another thing worth mentioning – you can complete your task faster than predicted.
(say, after two or three pomodoros)
A traditional Pomodoro technique is created as a learning method.
Because of that, it considers using the rest of pomodoros to strengthen the knowledge and skills learned in that one cycle.
However, if you’re using this method to complete a certain task, there’s no need to strengthen it further.
You can consider it done and simply move on to the next.
(or just enjoy the free time you have)
Let’s talk about your focus next.
When you just start to use the Pomodoro technique, although those 25 minutes are really not much time, for your focus they might seem intimidating.
(and initially hard to reach)
Therefore, in the beginning, you can decide to shorten the length of a single pomodoro.
Try to work completely focused for 15 or 20 minutes and see how well it goes.
You might start even with only 10 minutes at a time.
And although some real work can’t be done in such a short timespan, it could help you accomplish some quick task, or to get the initial momentum and the motivation to proceed with this method in the future.
The bottom line – start small and if nothing else, practice your focus.
Slowly increase the amount of time until you reach 25 minutes.
(or you can decide to practice your focus even further 🙂 )
Also, the work might pull you in.
(a possible option as well – right after you master the art of focus)
This might be the best option there is.
If you can focus long enough, you can absolutely skip one short break or two.
Not that it will get your work done faster (because 5 minutes really don’t make a significant impact), but you’ll keep the momentum and a steady stream of ideas.
Don’t forget to choose the best timing for practicing the Pomodoro technique.
If you decide to try out this method in the busiest, most hectic time of the day, you’ll almost certainly be doomed for failure.
Therefore, consider your schedule and choose the best timing which would allow you to stay focused on the task ahead.
What tools to use
A traditional Pomodoro method considers tracking your progress the old-fashioned way – by using a pen and paper.
In such case, you should have a timer and a planner with a time scale where you could schedule the pomodoros and tick them off when done.
Alternatively, there are many apps as well.
Here are only some of them.
- Pomicro – for Android users. A very basic app which can allow you to change the duration of Pomodoro session if needed.
- Engross – also for Android devices. An additional advantage of this app is that it helps you determine what times of the day you’re most productive. Therefore, if you’re unsure what’s your most productive time of the day, you might consider using this app.
- PomoDone – can be used on a number of platforms. It can be connected to other project management platforms – such as Asana, Trello, Evernote, Todoist, Wunderlist, Slack, Google tasks (and more) – and you can import your tasks and projects from there. (if you’re only a Trello user, you can try a Pomello app instead)
- Pomotodo – an app available for a number of platforms. You can record your tasks, organize and prioritize them, and work according to it because this app is based on Pomodoro and Getting Things Done method combined in one place.
- Pomodoro.cc – a very basic and simple web app for beginners (or those who like a minimalistic style).
Although apps might seem like an easier option, if you tend to be distracted by notifications from your phone, tablet, or a computer (whatever those notifications might be), choose to use a paper version instead – at least until your focus becomes unbreakable.
Test and try out what format works for you the best.
That’s all for now.
If you’d like to add a word or few about this subject, feel free to write it down in the comments section.
For more productivity tips and ideas (and some other, as well) you can follow me on Pinterest.
(and don’t forget to pin this post as well 😉 )