If you struggle with time management, you’re not alone. For many, assessing the priority of tasks and allocating time accordingly is one of the biggest challenges in a workday.
While there is no “one size fits all” time management approach, many workers in several disciplines have found success with the “Pomodoro Technique”. For those with a base knowledge in Italian, the name may seem peculiar (“Pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato”) – but this technique does not actually have anything to do with food at all. Instead, it is all about the power of short spurts of productivity.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as Pomodoros. After about four Pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
When the Pomodoro Technique was first being developed in the 1980s, its creator, a man by the name of Francesco Cirillo, was experimenting with the power of small, timed windows of work. At the time, he was using a tomato-shaped timer - the kind designed for kitchen use - to keep track of his intervals, hence the name “Pomodoro”. He was finding that, when he broke his work down into 25-minute intervals, he was much less likely to be overwhelmed and much more likely to complete tasks.
The core process of the Pomodoro technique consists of 6 steps:
Although it may seem straightforward on the surface, there is more that goes into the Pomodoro technique than simply setting a timer for 25 minutes. Cirillo breaks his technique down into six steps:
Plan the task
The first step of the Pomodoro Technique is to make a decision about what it is you’re setting out to do and estimating how long it will take you to do it.
Set your timer for 25 minutes
There are several apps that are designed to specifically work with the Pomodoro Technique. We like to use: the Be Focused App - it's free and really user-friendly.
Work until you hear the timer
It is suggested that the time in between each interval (known as a “pomodoro”) be spent in deep immersion within your task. Though this may seem daunting, it should be feasible for most people – after all, it’s only 25 minutes.
- When the timer rings, acknowledge the work you have done
Again, it is suggested to make a physical check mark on a piece of paper using a pen or pencil.
- Take a break
Once you have completed a Pomodoro, take a break of 3 to 5 minutes. Walk around, go outside, move! :)
- Once you finish 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break
This break can be between 5 to 30 minutes, and it’s up to you what you do with it – just make it non-work related!
The benefits of the Pomodoro technique:
Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly. Here are the key benefits of the Pomodoro technique:
- More focus and concentration.
- Less stress.
- Better management of the interruptions.
- Keeping high motivation levels.
- Reinforcing the determination in order to achieve something.
- Better awareness of the time you need to get things done.
The Pomodoro Technique also promotes a healthier relationship with time, which leads to greater workplace satisfaction. It’s no wonder that, according to Cirillo, millions of people around the globe have found his technique to be helpful in finding focus and reaching their potential.