Constant busyness, rushing around as well as living in a time crunch is the sad side of the 21st century. The constant rushing together with little sleep makes us ultimately more tired and less effective. Operating at top speed, in the long run, is not a good option. However, there is a way to make time your ally, not your enemy. It’s called The Pomodoro method and today we’ll introduce it and show how it can boost your productivity.

What is the Pomodoro technique? – table of contents:

  1. Pomodoro – a brief history of the origin of the technique
  2. What is the Pomodoro technique based on?
  3. Pomodoro technique step by step
  4. Customize Pomodoro to fit your needs
  5. What is the phenomenon of “tomatoes”?
  6. Pomodoro technique – summary

Pomodoro – a brief history of the origin of the technique

The origins of this simple yet successful time-management method date back to 1990s Italy when Francesco Cirillo invented it. While working at a university, he had trouble focusing and keeping up with the responsibilities that were piling up. To improve his productivity, he came up with the idea of dividing his work into short segments of time that helped him focus on the task at hand. Interestingly, it was for a tomato-shaped kitchen alarm clock he spontaneously took as a model, not the tomato that he coined the name Pomodoro.

It took over almost two decades for Corillo to publish an introduction to Pomodoro book laying out the reasoning and implementation of Pomodoro. Although the method originated back in the 1990s, it was published in 2008. In his book, Cirillo discusses the Pomodoro technique in detail and explains what the phenomenon of its use is and why setting specific goals is important.

What is the Pomodoro technique based on?

The core postulate of Pomodoro is to break down larger tasks into smaller ones that are realistic to achieve in a short period. Each such episode of intensive work is followed by a break, which allows you to detach your thoughts and provides rest for your brain.

Pomodoro is a repetitive system, so the brain quickly gets used to this type of work, and relatively short stretches of intense work ensure consistent productivity.

The greatest advantage of this method is its simplicity and ease of implementation. It is ideal for a person who is looking for a way to increase productivity or efficient use of time. Precisely because of the ease of implementation, anyone can test this method on themselves and assess whether it is right for them.

Pomodoro technique step by step

The first step is always to arrange a list of tasks for a given period, such as the current working day. It is best to write them out on a piece of paper or in a task scheduling app. This way you will have a better idea of how much time they can take and it will be easier to assign them to specific “tomatoes”. Smaller tasks can be combined. It is best to group similar activities together, e.g. calling a client back and checking email. If the task list is ready and assigned to blocks – here we go.

  1. Set the timer for 25 minutes.
  2. It can be a classic timer or stopwatch on your phone. As we mentioned, there are also dedicated apps for counting down work time and breaks.

  3. Focus on the task and perform it until the alarm rings. Remember that the tomato blocks are uninterruptible.
  4. When the task is completed, mark it as done. This can be with a simple “Done” next to the task list. For visual learners, a better solution would be to paint in squares or draw pom poms. The increasing number of finished blocks gives a sense of efficiency.

  5. Take a break – 5 minutes.
  6. Repeat the steps above.
  7. Take a more extended break every 4 blocks.
  8. A longer break should last between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on how much you need at any given time. It is important to take a break from the screen during its duration (as long as the blocks were related to work in front of the computer). Don’t turn on Facebook or other social media during its duration. Take this time to walk, stretch or prepare and eat a meal. Provide your eyes and brain with rest.

Pomodoro technique

Customize Pomodoro to fit your needs

While there are a few rigid guidelines in Pomodoro, you can adjust some rules to suit your needs and make the method even more effective. 25 minutes of work is too long for you? Work uninterrupted for 15 minutes. This is a great way for those days when you feel you can’t focus on anything, and your thoughts drift off in another direction exceptionally quickly. The same goes for the recovery period. If you find that a 5-minute break is too short, extend it to 7 or 8 minutes.

It is a method that is designed to make your work easier and is only a tool. Tailor it to your needs, then it will be more useful. Remember that Pomodoro is meant to help, not to further complicate your task.

What is the phenomenon of “tomatoes”?

Doing many things at once and succumbing to distraction causes us to lose not only productivity but ultimately job satisfaction. Many of us are familiar with the scenario: you’re checking email, replying to a message from a customer, but in the meantime, an ad for a shoe store pops up and you’re reminded that you need to order for your son’s kindergarten class. You go to the store’s website, place the order, and completely forget that you have started an e-mail in the second tab. Sound familiar?

Fight against distractions

The main task of Pomodoro is precisely to teach us to focus on a specific task and complete it without getting distracted. It’s a method to combat omnipresent distractions. If you still have trouble focusing at first, you can try turning off notifications on your phone or computer for the duration of your work.

Short sessions with breaks are a method for productive work

Large tasks to accomplish are overwhelming. In most cases, the brain gets distracted after a while. Short breaks significantly improve concentration and help keep us on task.

Making it easier to get started

Do you know that state when you know you have something important to do (a big project to work on, a presentation, or studying for a high school diploma), but you are completely at a loss as to how to get around to it and you make up extra activities so as not to think about it? Avoiding these commitments is not a separate case at all and does not originate from your laziness. It’s a kind of defense we use for fear of failure. The Pomodoro method helps break down the threatening “monster” into pieces. All you have to do is reduce what you put off to small steps.

The fight against time is over

Getting caught up in the whirlwind of work and doing many things at once, we often feel that we are racing against time. Unfortunately, there is no method to manage it. However, there is a way to start managing yourself effectively in time and eliminate the stress associated with it. The Pomodoro technique introduces blocks that form a schedule. Such a ready-made sequence of events and a prepared plan do not cause stress. They even give a sense of calm. An additional motivation is the growing list of completed steps. In this way, you turn something negative like a sense of lost time into a concrete measure of productivity.

What is the Pomodoro method, how to use it, and is it effective?

A break – a reward

While it may seem rather mundane at first, our brains work better when motivated by the pursuit of a specific reward. In the case of the Pomodoro technique, this is the pursuit of a break. Short stretches of work time make us more eager to complete a task and more motivated to earn the reward of rest. Additionally, completing the next task and making it to the block gives a sense of accomplishment.

Pomodoro technique – summary

Pomodoro is a method that helps avoid scheduling errors. By performing specific tasks in blocks of time, we can plan them better and estimate how much time we need to complete them. Using the Pomodoro technique, you can plan your day better and make the time you spend on work or study more efficient. Over time, “tomatoes” can become the unit by which you plan your day.

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Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.