The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that might be just what you need if you’ve been struggling with focus and productivity lately. There are loads of different methods and techniques out there, and you’re probably tired of trying them, but give it a go. It can be a great way to kickstart your brain and help you get back into the zone for a while.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and just want to crawl into a corner to make your list of tasks go away, the Pomodoro Technique is something you should try. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a professional; it’s not the kind of time management method that discriminates. In this guide, I’m going to take you through the ins and outs of this particular technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique was first developed in the 1980s, and it was Francesco Cirillo that created it. At the time, he was a student that was struggling with getting things done and couldn’t quite master time management. To tackle this, he decided to fully commit himself to a study session lasting ten minutes with no interruptions.
Why Pomodoro? Well, Cirilo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to develop the technique, and so he named it after the Italian word for tomato.
After a lot of tweaking and experimentation, he finally had the perfect recipe that formed the technique we know today. Every work session is called a Pomodoro, and it lasts 25 minutes with a 5-minute break. For every four Pomodoros that you do, you get a longer break that lasts 15 minutes instead.
This means you can organize your work tasks by the number of Pomodoros that they will take to complete. It helps you break your day down and section it into manageable chunks that feel less overwhelming and are easier to complete. It can even be implemented in the planning process for future projects so that you have a fully organized timeline.
No interruptions are essential for a successful Pomodoro Technique session. So for the duration of each Pomodoro, you should ensure that your phone is on silent or DND (do not disturb) so that no one can distract you. If you are working in a team space, set your status to let your teammates know you are practicing the technique and they can contact you during your break.
Who Can Benefit From the Pomodoro Technique?
Anyone can benefit from the Pomodoro Technique, especially students who are trying to cram for their next big test or need to get a paper in by the ever-looming deadline.
It’s a time management method that is used equally within educational institutions and workplaces so that concentration and motivation levels remain high. Self-employed people can especially benefit from improved time management.
However, studies have also shown that those with ADHD often benefit from using the Pomodoro Technique. The short bursts of focus followed by a quick reward are quite pleasing to the dopamine receptors in the brain and can help improve struggles with concentration for better information retention.
Generally speaking, the average workday has up to 16 Pomodoro cycles. However, that doesn’t mean you need to follow this number strictly. You can use more or less, depending on how many tasks you need to complete and how you’re feeling mentally. Not every day is going to be great for focus, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
On those days, you can take advantage of a reduced number of Pomodoros, and some people have altered the length of Pomodoros to better suit their own minds. This is especially true for those with ADHD as every focus level is different and it allows you to find the perfect balance for your own productivity without feeling constrained by pre-set time limits.
How to Take Your Breaks
Organization is at the very core of the Pomodoro Technique, and every step needs to be planned - including your breaks. Structure is important and helps build a clear viewpoint and keep your mind focused. So, how should you be planning out your process?
You’re going to want to set out the tasks you have for the day by how they prioritize alongside how many Pomodoros they will take to complete. When the session is complete, you can tick each Pomodoro off alongside the five-minute break as you accomplish it. The same goes for the four Pomodoros and the fifteen-minute break that comes with it.
You can do anything you like when you’re on your breaks (whether long or short). While it’s recommended you take some time away from the screen, you have to do whatever makes you feel relaxed, comfortable, and helps refresh your mind. Some people like to get up, stretch, and take a walk around the workplace to get their blood pumping and their minds buzzing.
However, it is also the perfect excuse for grabbing a snack and making a drink so that you can replenish some energy and refocus your mind on work. If it’s a longer break, you could even sit outside with your snack and drink to get some fresh air before you head back to work.
A great tip is to always schedule a few more Pomodoro sessions than you think you’ll need in a day. This will reduce the feelings of stress and pressure you have to finish within a set amount of time, making it more likely for you to get everything done on schedule.
Does the Pomodoro Technique Work?
The Pomodoro Technique definitely works for a lot of people, and there are studies to prove it. It can help to reduce the mental fatigue you feel throughout the day, improve focus, and even keep motivation levels consistent from start to finish of your shift. The limited distractions can also improve project planning and make workplace communication more streamlined and less muddled.
Of course, not everyone who tries this technique is going to find it works for them. While it can be especially great for neurodivergent people, everyone’s mind works differently, and if this method doesn’t quite scratch that distracted itch, don’t worry. There are other practices out there that might work for you instead.
So, the Pomodoro Technique tends to work, and you might find that it changes the way you see your workday and to-do list. It’s true that it might not work for everyone, but it's definitely worth trying if you’re feeling stressed and need a change. It’s been a popular method since the 80s, so it’s definitely doing something right.
While you’re here, have you considered a DNA test from CircleDNA? It can help give you a better view of your genetic makeup and potential conditions that you might be predisposed to - including those that could impact your productivity levels such as ADHD. It’s worth getting to know yourself a little better, and this is the perfect place to start.
- The Pomodoro Technique: An Effective Time Management Tool - NICHD Connection - Science@NICHD. Nih.gov. Published 2023. Accessed January 5, 2023. https://science.nichd.nih.gov/confluence/display/newsletter/2020/05/07/The+Pomodoro+Technique%3A+An+Effective+Time+Management+Tool
- Kreider CM, Medina S, Slamka MR. Strategies for Coping with Time-Related and Productivity Challenges of Young People with Learning Disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Children. 2019;6(2):28. doi:10.3390/children6020028
- The Pomodoro® Technique | Cirillo Consulting GmbH. Francescocirillo.com. Published 2020. Accessed January 5, 2023. https://francescocirillo.com/products/the-pomodoro-technique