The Pomodoro Technique for Time Management

By Alyssa Gregory

Pomodoro TechniqueI write a lot about time management and productivity, likely because I am always going head-to-head with time and trying to fit in as much as possible every day. It’s almost like a personal challenge for me, one that I thrive on. I have a number of systems I use to keep me on track, and while they work fairly well, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive and efficient.

I recently stumbled across the Pomodoro Technique and was immediately intrigued. Although not new (Francesco Cirillo created the technique in 1992), the Pomodoro Technique teaches us how to remove some of our anxiety around time and learn how to become more consistently productive.

The Focus of The Pomodoro Technique

According to the free ebook available for download on the web site, the goal of the Pomodoro Technique is to provide a simple process for improving productivity by:

  • Alleviating anxiety
  • Enhancing focus and concentration by cutting down on interruptions
  • Increasing awareness of your decisions
  • Boosting motivation and keeping it constant
  • Bolstering the determination to achieve your goals
  • Refining the estimation process, both in qualitative and quantitative terms
  • Improving your work or study process
  • Strengthening your determination to keep on applying yourself in the face of complex situations

Sounds like a pretty hefty goal, doesn’t it? And one that will most certainly make you more productive if you’re able to accomplish it. Let’s look at how the technique actually works.

Using The Pomodoro Technique

One of the most attractive features of the Pomodoro Technique is how simple it is. Here is a simplified 6-step process compiled from information provided on the web site and in the book:

  1. Gather necessary materials: a timer, blank or lined paper (or a To Do Today template available on the website as shown below), a pencil and an eraser.
  2. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  3. Set your timer to 25 minutes (each 25-minute timer interval is considered a “Pomodoro”).
  4. Work on the task until the timer rings and put a check on your sheet of paper in the column to the right of your task.
  5. Take a 3-5 minute break.
  6. Move on to the next task.

Pomodoro To-Do List
You should be able to keep on working, Pomodoro after Pomodoro, until each task is finished. Then you simply cross it out.

Helpful Tips

I definitely suggest reading through the ebook and information on the web site (there are a number of templates, cheetsheets and tools available), but here are some general tips to help you make the most of the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Take a 15-30 minute break every 4 Pomodoros.
  • If you finish a task while the Pomodoro is still ticking, take advantage of the opportunity to “overlearn” by using them to review your work and make improvements.
  • If a task takes more than 5–7 Pomodoros to complete, break it down into smaller tasks.
  • Mark interruptions on your sheet so you can track (and eliminate) them over time.
  • Don’t use the Pomodoro Technique for activities you do in your free time.

Not a paper person? You can implement this technique electronically, by using a spreadsheet or database. This is the best application for me, and I can see implementing it into my current task tracking system as a timing guide. I plan to give it a try over the coming weeks.

What do you think about the Pomodoro Technique? Will you give it a try to improve your productivity?

  • Digital vs. Analog

    What kind of task-tracking software are you currently using and how are you integrating the Pomodoro Technique into it?

  • John MacAdam

    For those of you with an iPhone, check out the Pomodoro Timer by Navel Labs. Hands down the best iPhone Pomodoro app. This honestly is a great technique to increase concentration.

  • http://www.avertua.com Alyssa Gregory

    @Digital vs. Analog – I use Intervals. They have a great time tracking feature so I can move from task to task on a timed basis and easily track my progress.

  • Anonymous

    I have never heard of this before. But it does look like real good information and sound advice. Im going to try it. Thanks for the post

  • Tim

    Sounds like it would work for simple tasks, but not complex tasks. Sometimes it simply takes too much time to switch trains of thought, meaning you waste a portion of that 25 minute block

  • My220x

    Seems like a pretty good idea deffo going to try it out in the future.

  • AnneC

    I build time management products and I like the concept of Pomodoro, but I can see it working better in some environments than others. It would seem ideal for home working and for tasks like revising for exams where you just need to get your head down and force yourself not to procrastinate. However, it could be hard to implement in an office where there are a lot of distractions and interruptions. Nonetheless, the principles are very sound and if you do have a lot work to complete then working in a quiet place, to reduce interruptions, and using this method, to keep you focussed, sounds like a great recipe for getting it done.

    Anne Currie
    Time Tracking Software for Outlook

  • McCheezencakes

    This is a very useful technique, but I refuse to call 25 minutes “a pomodoro”. You also seemed to be calling the timer a pomodoro:

    If you finish a task while the Pomodoro is still ticking…

    I actually had to stop reading near the end of the article because my brain started to shut down. It reminded me of the Marklar episode of South Park.

  • auhoque

    Seems to be a very good technique. Thanks

  • Joel Drapper

    There’s an adobe air app that you might want to check out to help with this. http://www.focusboosterapp.com/

  • Kell

    Thanks for this technique. I have not heard of it before but it makes sense if your tasks can be broken down into small chunks – often a very useful thing for focus and motivation. I shall check it out.


  • Ian Lim

    First time heard of this technique, soounds interesting to explore and see more of the concepts, the tools :P

  • Dan

    If you’d like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:


    You can use it to manage and prioritize your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version is available too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Furmant/100002713613552 Alex Furmant

    I like Pomodorium because it’s RPG-like game based on podomoro technique.
    New way to motivate gamer like me

  • Gilles Letare

    Hi, since I use Pomodoro, I doubled my efficiency. For a good online pomodoro timer, check EFA – Pomodoro



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