The Pomodoro Technique for Time Management

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?