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In my opinion, the Pomodoro Technique is by far the best technique for productivity.
If you speak Italian, you might be wondering: what the heck does a tomato have to do with productivity?
In case you don’t speak Italian, you’re probably just thinking it’s a weird word.
Anyway, before you get too confused about the name, let me quickly tell you my personal experience:
I’m that kind of person who overthinks everything! This means that I often suffer from analysis paralysis and because I’m so overwhelmed, I procrastinate.
Well, I’m always busy but I rarely got tasks done as fast as I thought I would which was really frustrating and leads to more procrastination!
After I discovered the Pomodoro Technique, this changed drastically!
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system in which you spend 25 minutes on a task, then take a break of 5 minutes and continue on to the next 25 minutes. One block is called a “Pomodoro”. This is so great for productivity because it helps to get you started. 25 minutes is much less overwhelming than a full day of 8 hours.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Before I can show you how you can use the Pomodoros to boost your productivity, let’s first look at what this technique even is.
Pomodoro Technique explained
The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the early 1990. He named it after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used to track his work as a student.
The concept is essentially that you work for 25 minutes straight without any distraction and then take a 5-minute break. This takes the limited attention span of our brains into account, which is why you need regular breaks.
Each 25-minute session is called a Pomodoro.
After 4 Pomodoros it’s recommended to take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes.
Why is it called Pomodoro Technique?
The inventor Francesco Cirillo tried to improve his productivity and time management as a university student. He found out that it works best to set a timer for 25 minutes, during which he worked without any interruption.
As a timer he used a kitchen watch of the shape of a tomato. And since tomato in Italian means pomodoro, the name was born.
Pomodoro Technique psychology
The psychology of the Pomodoro Technique is to help your brain to overcome blocks such as procrastination and overwhelm.
If you tell yourself: okay, I just work for 25 minutes, it’s almost laughable not to do it. I mean, everyone can work for 25 minutes, right?
And there you go, you finally started!
Even if you only do one Pomodoro the first day, you at least got some work done. And chances are that you’ll feel a flow picking up. This feels great and so your brain wants more of it. And so this will make it much easier to fit in more and more Pomodoros into your day because it just feels so good to get things done!
Another important psychological part is that breaks can help you stay motivated. Plus, you work in shorter sessions which improves your ability to focus and fights decision making fatigue.
Pomodoro Technique as a productivity booster
Now, let’s look at why the Pomodoro Technique is so great for productivity.
It’s great to break bad habits and train willpower
First of all, it’s perfect to break bad habits, such as procrastination and getting distracted. And it’s an awesome tool to train your willpower.
As I’ve explained in my article on habit formation you need to start small, you need to find a trigger, then stick to it and lastly reward yourself.
All of this can be incorporated through the Pomodoro Technique.
- Starting small: 25 minutes and you’re done!
- Cue/Trigger: for instance, when you start your computer
- Sticking to it: this should be easy as you’ll feel great once you’ve completed a Pomodoro and gotten into a productivity flow!
- Reward: after 25 minutes you get a 5-minute break.
It’s also a wonderful tool to get your self-discipline up.
You’ll be amazed at how easy it gets to complete a task even if you thought you had no self-discipline!
Helps you get started
Another cool part about the Pomodoro Technique is that it helps you get started.
There’s no need to think about what to do first and how much time it’s all going to take.
No, just set a timer for 25 minutes and start with one task!
To really boost your productivity, it’s best to first break all your tasks into smaller chunks and to think about how many Pomodoros you need to complete it.
But if you’re really overwhelmed, like I used to be, I highly recommend you just start doing something for 25 minutes.
After a while you’ll find the mental strength and focus to first lay out your Pomodoros to really get the most out of your time management.
Keep it flexible
In my opinion, this technique works best if you keep it flexible.
It often happens to me that I’m in a good flow after 25 minutes. Then, it doesn’t make sense to stop. So, I keep going until it wears off (normally after about 40 minutes) and then I take a break of 7 to 10 minutes.
This is why for me personally it works best to just watch the time, instead of using a timer. The *ding would stress me more than anything else.
So, this all comes down to personal preference. You need to figure out what works best for you.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s not compulsory to make the 5-minute break exactly after 25 minutes. If a flow just picked up, ride that wave and keep going. The only important thing is that you work for at least 25 minutes without disturbance!
Who is the Pomodoro Technique for?
Now, the Pomodoro Technique isn’t for everyone.
Some people find it rather a hindrance than a helper because they have flows lasting for 2 or 3 hours. Or they need several hours of focused, undisturbed time to complete a task and breaks in between aren’t beneficial.
So, let’s look at who can benefit the most from this time management technique.
Do you procrastinate often?
Do you struggle to start with tasks and procrastinate often?
Then the Pomodoro Technique is perfect for you.
I often struggle with procrastination and I easily get distracted by my phone, my fridge or whatever else comes my way.
Doing 25 minutes of work straight helped me tremendously! I still tend to take longer breaks, but at least I get a lot more done in a just a few Pomodoros a day than I ever did before.
Do you struggle to get things done?
Do you know that feeling that it’s super difficult to finish a task when you’re almost done?
This is super hard for me. It’s going okay as long as I know there’s still a lot to do. But when I know I’m almost done, I just can’t motivate myself anymore.
If this is you, the Pomodoro Technique will also help you a lot!
It means you can just set one more Pomodoro, because that will likely be the time you still need. And then, you’re finally done!
Do you wish you were more productive?
Even if the 2 scenarios I just described don’t sound familiar, but you generally wish you were more productive, the Pomodoro Technique is a great way to get you started.
You can always change to another time management system later on. But because you break your work down into little pieces, it takes out all the overwhelm.
Plus, you’ll naturally be more productive by simply working for 25 minutes straight. I know it’s not a lot, but it’s much more efficient than working for 2 hours while being distracted every 5 minutes.
Resources to get you started
In order to get started using the Pomodoro Technique for productivity, you basically only need a watch. Just calculate when 25 minutes are over and then take a break.
To get the maximum out of this productivity technique, I highly recommend you start tracking your Pomodoros, though. The best way to do that it to use an app and a printable (you can download mine for free).
You can also change your system if you feel like the tracking is a hindrance. But it provides great support to keep yourself accountable.
Pomodoro Technique app
There are a few good apps that you can use.
According to Paymo these are the best options:
- PomoDone (Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android)
- FocusBooster (Web, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
- Focus Keeper (iOS)
- Focus To-Do: Pomodoro Timer & To Do List (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
- Marinara Timer (Web)
Pomodoro Technique printable or worksheet
In order to get all of your tasks done and keep track of them, I highly recommend you also use a printable or worksheet.
To make this as easy as possible, I’ve created a Pomodoro Technique printable.
You can download it for free and print it out. Write all your tasks down in the first row. Think about how many Pomodoros you’ll need to complete the tasks and put that number in the second column. Then tick the Pomodoro boxes after each 25-minute session.
And once you’re done with a task, you can tick it off completely! Isn’t that the best feeling ever?
I honestly love creating lists simply for the fact that I get to tick things off 😉
Don’t forget to take longer breaks after completing 4 Pomodoros.