The Pomodoro Technique
Over the past few years, I’ve found the Pomodoro Technique to be a remarkably useful time management tool, whether I'm writing a blog post, doing schoolwork, or working on a personal project. In this blog post, I’ll quickly outline the technique and explain why I find it to be useful.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management technique that allows you to alternate between work periods and breaks in a structured way. It's not complicated: the idea is to set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a task for that entire period. After the 25 minutes are up, you take a 5-minute break to do something you enjoy. Continue alternating 25-minute work sessions and 5-minute breaks until you’ve done four work sessions, at which point you take a longer break of 20-30 minutes or so.
There are many apps and other tools that allow you to easily do pomodoros. I happen to use pomofocus.io in a browser or Focus Keeper on my iPad, but just about anything that keeps time will work (Francesco Cirillo, inventor of the Pomodoro Technique, famously used an egg timer in the shape of a tomato, hence "pomodoro").
There are some best practices for doing pomodoros. In particular, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as possible: turn on do-not-disturb mode, as you’ll never have to wait more than 25 minutes to check your messages during a break.
How is it Useful?
Most people know that breaks are important in order to work effectively, but it can be difficult to focus on your work while making sure to take breaks at appropriate intervals. The greatest strength of the Pomodoro Technique, in my mind, is that it combats decision fatigue, offloading the responsibility of choosing when to take the next break to the timer and freeing up a slot of working memory which would otherwise be occupied with “when do I get my next break?”.
While the 25-and-5 durations of work and break can be adjusted based on personal preference, I find that they work well for me personally. 25 minutes is enough time to get into flow state, but not long enough to get bogged down on a task. When you finish one small task with a few minutes left on the timer, it encourages you to begin on the next subtask instead of defaulting to a break, creating a sense of momentum from one work period to another. And for breaks, I find that five minutes is enough time to move around a bit (I tend to wander to a different room of the house and play an instrument for a few minutes), while a longer, 25-minute break is enough to go for a walk around the neighbourhood or read a book.
The Pomodoro Technique is a vital tool in my time-management toolkit—in fact, I have a pomodoro timer running as I write this. The Pomodoro Technique works well when working alone, but I’ve found particular success combining it with video coworking: the act of taking breaks at the same time as another person really allows me to settle into a focussed frame of mind. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance I’m looking for people with whom to do video coworking pomodoro sessions. If you’d like to try it out, or have any thoughts, comments or questions on this post, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Posted: Aug 31, 2021. Last updated: Aug 31, 2023.