The Pomodoro Method

Use a timer to stay focused and get things done.

As the legend goes, there was a guy from Italy that started the Pomodoro Method. Francisco Cirillo was a college student who struggled with his course work.  Sitting down to study, reading and writing for all the college classes he was taking seemed like drudgery. He was on the verge of failing and stumbled on a technique that worked for him. If he set his timer for just 25 minutes, he could sit, focus, and work through his course work. He found if he set the timer four times and took breaks in between, he could get much more done. That’s how the Pomodoro Method got started.

Cirillo had one timer, in the shape of a tomato. Tomato in Italian is Pomodoro. Let’s break down the Tomato Method.

First, decide on a task that you want to work on.

Next set your timer for 25 minutes.

Focus for the next 25 minutes on the task you designated as important.

When the timer goes off, take a 3 to 5 minute break.

Set the timer again for another 25 minutes and continue to work. Do this 4 times.

After four 25 minute ‘pomodoros’ take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.

It’s interesting that Cirillo stumbled on this technique because it is in line with how our brains work. It takes about 20 minutes for our brains to ‘ramp’ up in concentration. Then we can work for about 90 minutes in total. After 90 minutes we begin to lose concentration, so it’s best to take a break.

The timer you use can help in confirming the work that you’ve chosen and can be a motivator. When you set the timer and wind it up you are setting your intention for the work you want to do. As you hear the ticking of the timer it reminds you that you are on task and to complete the task. When the timer rings, it’s a signal-Yahoo! It’s time to take a break.

There are a few ways that you can handle the Pomodoro method. Some task masters will say if you start the timer and are interrupted that you reset the timer again. Some say you can or should document and track your time. You can get a sense of accomplishment when you track the actions you’ve tackled with each Pomodoro. Others say it’s helpful to track other ideas and thoughts that come into your head by writing them down and get back to the task at hand.

Like many productivity techniques these are guidelines not hard rules. Try the Tomato Method and find out what works best for you. In using this technique, you will gain a sense of control, focus and accomplishment.

Yes, they have an app for that. Check out these apps Pomodoro Time Pro  or try Focus Booster. My favorite is Repeat Timer it’s simple to use. There is both a free and paid version. You can set many intervals of time so that you can jump into work once the timer goes off.

Do you use the Pomodoro Method? Are you going to give it a try after reading this? Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Margo Crawford is a Productivity Coach with Wave Productivity. She works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused, organized and productive in their workplace. She coaches nationally by phone and in person in Phoenix, Boston and Providence. If your struggling with the Pomodoro Method or other time management issues, call 602-677-8275 or email margo@waveproductivity.com