Whether you’re a student looking for better study habits, a busy parent trying to juggle children and work and hobbies, or anyone else with a lot on their plate this spring, increasing your focus and productivity is always a good idea. The Pomodoro technique is a simple way to help you work smarter and focus more.
What is The Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The concept behind the technique is simple; you work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. After four sessions (or two hours total) you should take a longer break. The length of this break is up to you, but 15-30 minutes is typical. Just break for however long you need to feel reenergized, but not so long that you completely lose motivation.
- Francesco Cirillo
- Publisher: Currency
- Hardcover: 160 pages
Why Does The Pomodoro Technique Work?
This technique is popular (and more importantly, effective) for a few reasons. The primary reasons that Pomodoro works for a lot of people are that it allows you to break your work down into manageable chunks, limit distractions, and efficiently handle distractions when they do arise. Additionally, one huge benefit of the Pomodoro Technique is that it encourages you to simply start working. Often, getting started is the biggest impediment to tackling a project, and this technique helps alleviate that concern by encouraging you to work in short bursts.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasoning behind this method, as well as some easy tools to help you implement it in your own life.
Make Manageable Chunks
Any time you have a large project in front of you, it can seem daunting and overwhelming. Sometimes, for me at least, this overwhelm fuels my procrastination, and then the cycle continues when I later have to sit down and do the work.
When you’re following the Pomodoro technique, you know you only have 25 minutes of work ahead of you. Then you can grab some water or stretch and walk around for a few minutes. Or you can scroll through Instagram – that’s usually my choice as I wander around the room!
By breaking your project down into 25-minute blocks, you have something to check off your list, too. If you have a big project, you might be able to break it into smaller pieces. If you’re working on something like a paper that doesn’t really have neat sections, you can always work for 25 minutes and then pick up where you left off.
Anytime I sat down to work on a paper, study for a test, or organize my schedule for the upcoming week; my first step was usually to open the document or notebook…and then promptly pull out my phone and waste 20 minutes or more on social media, mindlessly scrolling or watching videos.
The Pomodoro method is beneficial in these circumstances. It’s much easier (although it’s still not fun) for me to jump straight into working when I know I can get on my phone in just a little while. I have that motivation sitting there, encouraging me to keep going.
Improve Your Productivity
Our culture seems to thrive on “busy” nowadays. We’ve put multitasking on such a high pedestal that it seems to be the gold standard for success. This, however, should not be the case. Research has shown that multitasking isn’t possible. The human brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. When we “multitask,” we actually make our brain switch focus between two, three, or more projects very quickly.
In reality, multitasking can hurt our brains. Not only are we probably missing things when we switch back and forth between different tasks, but if we’re “chronic” multitaskers, our minds might not be as efficient, even if we’re trying to only focus on one task, according to a study from Stanford University.
Now, as great as it may sound, it’s probably unrealistic to try to stop multitasking completely. As with anything, though, any bit of progress can be helpful. By using the Pomodoro technique, you can truly try to just focus on one task for 25 minutes – or until the project is done, if it takes you less than 25 minutes.
Handle Distractions Efficiently
You might be thinking, “but what if I’m at work, and I get an important phone call?” The Pomodoro technique can help you deal with these types of distractions efficiently as well. First of all, evaluate if the distraction is urgent and needs to be handled right away. Depending on the call, your job, or who’s on the other end, you might have to stop your timer and deal with whatever crisis is currently happening. If that happens, don’t stress, just start a new 25-minute timer when you’re back and able to focus again.
If it’s not urgent, then reschedule. If it’s your mom calling to tell you about the cute new thing her cat did today, or if it’s a coworker calling with a non-urgent matter, you can postpone this distraction. Answer the phone and politely tell the person on the other end (or the person who just walked into your office) that you’re currently in the middle of something important and you’ll call them back or stop by their office as soon as you get a moment. Make sure you make a note of this, so you don’t forget to re-address the issue.
Not only will you stay focused on your project, but you’ll also have more control over how your day goes.
Pomodoro Timer Tools
The original Pomodoro timer was simply a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. The creator of the system, Francisco Cirillo had a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato (or Pomodoro in Italian) that he used as a college student to focus on his assignments.
Any timer will work. A kitchen timer, a timer on your phone, or even a good ol’ alarm clock. In our technologically-savvy world, though, there are plenty of other options, as well. Such as:
- Focus Timer App
- TomatoTimer Website
- Pomodoro Timer (Lite) App
- Be Focused App
If you use a time-tracking tool like Toggl on your computer or phone, they have a Pomodoro setting that times both your 25-minute work periods and your five-minute breaks. That’s actually what I’m using as I write this post!
What is Your Favorite Way To Use the Pomodoro Method?
Have you ever tried using the Pomodoro method? As with any focus or productivity tool, it might not work for everyone. It’s certainly something that works for me, though. Not only does it help me focus on the task at hand, but it also reminds me to take a break and walk around, especially if I sink deep into a project.
The Pomodoro Technique is a great addition to anyone’s productivity tool belt, but it is important to play around with many different methods to see what works best for you. I recommend trying to pair this technique with something like a goals and rewards system to better motivate you to start, and a habit tracker to help you track your progress. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the method, or any other focus-keeping techniques you like to use.
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Last update on 2019-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Prices shown represent Amazon prices only, and do not represent the current price from any other source.