Created in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is hugely popular in the productivity world thanks to its brain-boosting properties. Today, we’ll be introducing you to this time management technique, sharing the research on what makes it so effective, and sharing some Pomodoro Technique tips to help you customize your workflow.
What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity strategy where you set a timer to work for a given time, then take a break when the timer goes off. It was invented by Italian developer and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo. The name comes from the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used to measure his sessions, which by tradition are a 25-minute work session followed by a 5-minute break. After multiple back-to-back sessions, the strategy encourages you to take a longer break.
Why Is The Pomodoro Technique So Beneficial To Productivity?
It helps you to break down larger tasks into manageable chunks
By its very nature, the Pomodoro Technique encourages you to think of your day as a series of sessions. You’ll naturally find yourself planning what each session is for, thereby breaking your longest tasks into smaller chunks. Our brains then see these bigger tasks as more achievable, leading us to avoid procrastination now we see our work as easier to do.
Taking breaks in our day is good for us
There are many reasons why taking a break benefits our productivity:
- Breaks boost our memory, helping us recall more information when needed.
- It helps us remain focused. One study found that “constant stimulation of one sort is registered by our brains as unimportant to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness.”
- Breaks help reduce mistakes. On-the-job accidents decrease when we take a break during our day.
Gamification can be a powerful motivator
Many apps will show you how many sessions you’ve successfully worked through during the day, which can feel exciting. Lots of us find that gamification is great for our productivity, as your competitive side gets ignited when trying to beat a previous Pomodoro record. It can also help you feel like you’re on a roll, which is a great headspace for getting work done.
How Can You Customize The Pomodoro Technique?
Since its creation in the late 1980s, many users have discovered ways to customize their Pomodoro Technique. We recommend experimenting with the traditional approach to find a strategy that works for you, and to keep things fresh if you’re a loyal user!
Experiment with an app or with a timer on your desk
We don’t recommend using your smartphone timer app for the Pomodoro Technique if it’s a source of distraction for you. Instead, there are plenty of desktop apps that act as digital timers, some of them with in-depth levels of customization for free or just a few dollars.
Some of our favorite Pomodoro timer apps are:
- Be Focused for Mac users looking for simplicity. It’s simple, has a free option, and allows you to choose from different sounds to perk you up.
- Flow for Mac users who love great design. Its features are comparable to Be Focused, but its design is a little sleeker.
- Pomodor for Windows users or anyone not wanting a desktop app. It’s very minimalistic in its features and design.
- Forest for anyone who doesn’t mind a smartphone app. It’s a two-in-one for productivity, as it grows a tree for every session you complete without touching your phone. Perfect for getting Pomodoro Technique sessions in while also ensuring you won’t use your phone.
If you’re ready to go old-school, there are dedicated Pomodoro timers available very inexpensively online. These come with the benefit of letting you see where you’re at without clicking into anything. We recommend them for anyone looking to embrace low-tech productivity. You can even find timers shaped like tomatoes!
Try different themes for each work session
If you feel comfortable with the basics of the Pomodoro Technique, how about theming each session? When you sit down to plan your day, you could set themes based on the task you’re focusing on. They could be anything from an expenses catchup session to a proof-reading session. Alternatively, what about themes around the energy you’d like that session to embody? Perhaps you could have a “Power Hour” session in the morning to blast through all the little admin tasks in your backlog. Maybe you could have a “Relaxed Review” session last thing in the day when your energy is too low to start something new, but ideal for dotting the Is and crossing the Ts on a recent project.
Switch up the durations of your work sessions and breaks
Although the traditional ratio of the Pomodoro Technique is 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break, don’t be afraid to customize it. One study found that 52 minutes of work followed by a 17-minute break was the optimum. You might trial both ratios and find that’s still not your happy medium, and that another ratio works for you instead. How about taking a week to test out five different ratios and journal at the end of each day to say how you found it?
Equally, perhaps you could adapt the technique to your mood. Maybe on days your energy is low, a shorter work session is more manageable. Perhaps when you’re energetic and well-rested, a longer session works better. Stay open and aware to see what best suits you.
- The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity strategy where you use a timer to work for a set interval and then set another timer to take a break. Its name comes from the tomato timer its Italian creator used to measure his sessions.
- The Pomodoro Technique boosts productivity by helping you break down larger tasks into accessible chunks, as well as improving our memory, reducing mistakes, and keeping focused through regular breaks.
- Customize the Pomodoro Technique. Decide if you want to use a physical timer that can sit on your desk, or if you prefer digital timer apps for your computer.
- Give each session a theme. It could be the task you’ll focus on or the energy you’d like that session to represent, like a “Power Hour.”
- Experiment with the length of your work sessions and breaks. You might generally prefer a 52-minute work session and a 17-minute break, but on low-energy days, you might want your work sessions to be shorter.
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