What is the Pomodoro Technique & How Does It Work?


Share this Article:

Our content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click links to our partners. Learn more in our Editorial & Advertising Policy.

What is The Pomodoro Technique?

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that aims to maximize productivity through focused sessions of work. Tasks are divided in intervals of 25 minutes, also called a pomodoro session. After each interval, the worker takes a short break for about 5 minutes. During the session, the worker provides complete focus on the task and only on the task. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, which is the shape of the timer that the method inventor, Francesco Cirillo, used as he was developing his technique.

It is effective in avoiding distractions and gaining maximum productivity due to its regular obligatory breaks. It is also popular because it is simple to learn and portable in different work scenarios. The Pomodoro method is the principle of many smartphone productivity apps today to help all types of workers, especially knowledge workers, maximize productivity.

Featured Partners

ivity bloggers are busily promoting the Pomodoro Technique and its variations. Invented in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that has recently gained the attention of productivity experts. Their research and experiments confirm the benefits that users and managers are getting from using the Pomodoro method.

Today, technology is a significant part of our productive lives. But it can also easily take our attention and interrupt us at every step we take in the form of messages, notifications, or reminders. Technological wonders like smartphones and apps enable us but also distract us. Employers monitor with concern the decreasing levels of productivity as it affects the quality of work delivered.

Technology hovers over us from the time we wake up to the time we sleep. It has become a challenge to maintain focus and deliver our best in trying to achieve our individual and organizational goals.

We developed new but not necessarily productive behaviors as we interacted with technology. But the negative effects continue to grow as mobile device ownership increases. Alarmed, productivity experts looked for answers and solutions to counter the diminishing capacity to stay in focus. One technique that has shown great promise is the Pomodoro Technique. And smartphones blamed for distracting us are the very same platform that is helping its propagation and practice.

How the Pomodoro Technique works

The technique involves six steps.

Step 1: Plan

Plan what tasks you want to tackle. The Pomodoro Technique is ideal for many types of work including writing, coding, or going through repetitive work. Remember to time and track your sessions, so bring a timer, pen and paper, or an app that does all these.

Step 2: Set the timer

Set the timer for 25 minutes. The goal is to continue working until you hear the timer rings. For the technique to be effective, treat a pomodoro session as an indivisible interval. If interrupted, consider postponing the session or totally abandoning it.

Step 3: Start working and focus on the task

Work on the tasks you plan to complete and keep working until the timer rings. You can disable any app or program that may interrupt your work flow or break your concentration. Other helpful activities are keeping phones off or using headphones to minimize noise. Some choose to work on a time of day where the surrounding is more quiet than usual.

Step 4: Time for break

Stop working when the timer rings at the end of a pomodoro session. Take a break for a few minutes, between 3 to 5 minutes. Record the end of one session. If you finish a task before the timer rings, use the extra time to review your work. Use the break to rest and refresh.

Step 5: Track your sessions

If you have recorded completing less than four sessions, continue with the process and set your timer for another. If you have completed your fourth session, go to step 6.

Step 6: Increase break duration

After completing your fourth pomodoro session, take a longer break of about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the tasks. Reset or prepare to track for another set of four sessions.

How the Pomodoro Technique helps in maximizing productivity

The main idea of the Pomodoro Technique is to reduce the instances and opportunities of any type of interruption to your focus and flow. The length of sessions and breaks are flexible, but it is important to stay on the fixed sequence of periods to minimize distractions as well as keep a worker from getting overwhelmed. The regular breaks also help you for your next work session.

It improves productivity levels in different ways:

1. Greater focus

The Pomodoro technique helps improve productivity by improving focus on the task at hand. The fixed intervals of the sessions assures the worker of the upcoming break. This results in increased focus on the task. Planned breaks improve self-discipline and make an individual concentrate on the given task.

2. Less distractions

As the technique requires individuals to keep all the distractions including smart phones off or away from the work desk, it ensures maximum productivity. Minimize interruptions from calls, texts, and other notifications by turning devices off or setting them on silent mode during a pomodoro session.

3. Planned breaks

As the breaks are already planned, the worker will take a break only when it is after a session. Pausing the timer or taking an unnecessary break defeats the purpose. The Pomodoro method’s success requires discipline. The length of a session also reflects a natural concentration cycle. Regular breaks refresh the worker and creates the motivation to deliver the best work at the next session.

Adoption of the Pomodoro Technique

The popularity of the Pomodoro Technique will increase as more employers seek to maximize productivity and employees embrace it to achieve career goals through focused work sessions. Although iOS and Android apps are available to apply the Pomodoro Technique digitally, it only requires a mechanical timer, paper, and pencil.

The winding of the timer to start the task and its ticking manifest the worker’s determination to start and complete the task, while the ringing indicates a break. These physical signs become associated with the focus and flow gained by the worker.

Ready to try the Pomodoro Technique to improve your productivity?

Adopting any new work technique takes planning and practice. The Pomodoro Technique is a way to help a worker deliver short, regular, and consistent bursts of work. The process also includes planning, time management, and tracking, which are elements of productivity.

Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.

Featured Partners

Ankit Patel Avatar

Get the Newsletter

Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.