Ode to the Pomodoro
If you have trouble focusing on a task, consider the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management method that promotes productivity in timed intervals with short breaks in between. It uses intervals to break down the processes for your project. You can use these intervals to plan, track, process, and review your project.
It’s basically you against the clock. It forces you to focus.
How does the Pomodoro Technique work?
This method was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The name references the typical kitchen tomato timer, “pomodoro” meaning “tomato” in Italian.
The Pomodoro Technique breaks down focused tasks in short, typically 25-minute intervals. Each interval is called a Pomodoro.
There are 6 steps to the Pomodoro Technique:
- Plan your task.
- Set the timer, typically at 25 minutes.
- Work on the task throughout that interval.
- Stop work when the timer rings. Take a short break, typically at 5 to 10 minutes.
- Continue from Step 2 until you’ve finished 4 Pomodoros.
- After 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break at around 20 to 30 minutes. After the break, repeat at Step 2.
Pomodoro can be applied with project management techniques and tools, so you don’t jump in with no scope into the work of the project. It is ideal to plan and track the process for your project before a Pomodoro.
If you’ve finished your task early during a Pomodoro, you can use the time to review your task or the overall project. You can review the task completely, review the project or tasks from a learning or reflective perspective, or prepare for the next task in the project.
Disadvantages to the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique assumes that you will be distraction-free, which may be impossible in a world now where work, communication, technology, and interruptions at home (if working at home) are all beckoning for attention. It may be difficult to adhere to focused intervals when someone asks for you, you’re pulled into an emergency meeting, or someone sends you an instant message.
Additionally, the Pomodoro Technique may be too rigid for tasks that call for deeper focus or creative thinking. Others may find the strict intervals distracting. Each break forces them to start over from their thought processes. That prevents them from achieving flow state, a period of immersive concentration on a task, or colloquially known as “getting in the zone.” The Flowtime Technique is an alternative to the Pomodoro technique that encourages flow state.
Adjust to your Preference
I find that 2 Pomodoros are generally enough in writing daily for my current monthly writing challenge. The short breaks are helpful, but I end up stretching them over an additional 5 to 10 minutes, sometimes getting distracted and coming back to the Pomodoro a little later. My phone is presently my main distraction, if it’s not my computer. If I’m writing on Microsoft Word, I use the ‘Focus’ feature to help deter any onscreen distractions. My workflow at the moment is quite low-key, so something different may work for you.
There are several tools for the Pomodoro Technique. Personally, I use the Pomodoro Timer Pro app on my phone. A simple timer could even do. The Pomodoro has helped me reformulate my time in working. Find what works for you and your unique preferences and environment.