How to use the Pomodoro Technique to unlock your productivity potential

I wrote this blog as a guest post for Eric Golban’s Blog.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. “Pomodoro” is Tomato in Italian. It was named after the Tomato Kitchen timer that he used to time his work sessions. Each work session comprises of 25mins of working followed by a 5min break.

What are the 5 steps in the Pomodoro Technique

  1. Determine a task to focus on.
  2. Start the timer for 25mins (Or however long you’d like to focus for).
  3. Work on the task for the predetermined time.
  4. Take a short 5 – 10min break.
  5. Repeat the process as needed.
  6. After 3 – 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break.

And that’s it. The pomodoro technique is simple.

How I approach the Pomodoro Technique

I use the Pomodoro Technique combined with Time Blocking (Also known as Time Boxing). Typically I’ll establish my 3 MIT’s (Three most important tasks for the day), allocate time (time Blocking) and then I’ll use the Pomodoro Technique to help me focus on my tasks.

I use the premium version of TickTick to do all of this since it allows me to capture tasks, plan them on my calendar and it has a built in Pomodoro Timer which makes this entire process so smooth.

3MITs -> Time Blocking -> Pomodoro Technique

Why is the Pomodoro Technique effective?

On of the biggest problems for modern workers is distraction. We constantly are bombarded with distractions. Our phone is always within reach, and open offices are more common. The Pomodoro Technique is a technique that allows us to deal with distractions, focus on a single task and get shit done.

How to get the most out of the pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is most effective when you eliminate as many distractions as possible during your “focus” period. Use earphones, turn off notifications on your pc and put your phone out of reach.

Secondly, during your 5minute rest period, get up from your desk and drink some water or take a walk.

The Pomodoro Technique is best when you have laser focus during the 25mins and then indulge in movement, and distractions during the 5minute break. Just don’t forget to get back to what you were focussing on.

Alternatives to the Pomodoro technique?

There are a few alternatives to the pomodoro technique. They are essentially the same principle with varying periods of focus and rest:

  1. Desktime Method – 52 minutes of work, 17 minutes break.
  2. Ultradian rhythm Method – 90 minutes of work, extended break.

Both these methods operate on the same principle, teaching yourself to focus intently on one task, and then indulging in distractions during your rest periods. I’d recommend experimenting with them and finding what works for you.

Pomodoro Technique FAQ

Does the Pomodoro Technique actually work?

That depends entirely on you. The Pomodoro Technique can be highly effective. Like most productivity tools, it’s there as an aid, and won’t do the work for you. The pomodoro technique is effective because it helps you stave off procrastination and distraction while still getting frequent breaks.

Are Pomodoro’s always 25 minutes?

Yes, strictly speaking a Pomodoro Session is 25 minutes. However, you can find any duration of time that works for you. The trick is to make absolute sure that you take the work sessions seriously, and stick to the schedule.

Why is the Pomodoro Technique 25 minutes?

The Pomodoro Technique is 25 minutes because that is the duration that Francesco Cirillo‘s kitchen timer supported. It is for this reason that I recommend finding a duration of time that works for you. Some people might find 25 minutes too short, so if this is the case, make the sessions a bit longer.

How many Pomodoro’s can you do in a day?

The average person is awake for about 16 hours a day, so if you woke up and started working immediately you could technically achieve 32 Pomodoro’s a day. More realistically the average person can work for about 3 – 6 hours a day of pure focused work. So, on a really good day you could achieve 6 – 12 Pomodoro sessions. Personally, I aim for 3 – 6 if I achieve this, then I consider it a good day.

What are the disadvantages of the Pomodoro Technique?

One of the biggest issues with the Pomodoro Technique is that the 25min working sessions might be too short to allow you to fully be immersed in your work. This is why I personally use 45min sessions. If you’re finding that the 25 minutes of work aren’t enough for you to be fully immersed in your work, then you should consider making the session longer.

The other issue with the Pomodoro Technique is that some jobs don’t allow you to take breaks ever 25mins. If you work in a call center for example, you’re not allowed to just get out of your chair whenever you want.

What do you do in a 5 minute pomodoro break?

  1. Take a step away from screens. Don’t go on social media or YouTube. Take a break from your screens.
  2. Go for a walk outside. Some direct sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for your energy levels.
  3. Drink some water, water can also help aid your energy levels. Often when we feel tired or sluggish while working, we just need some more water.
  4. Eat some food, like sunlight and water, drinking some food can drastically boost your energy levels. Give your body some calories.

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