Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management systems used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.
Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference, but if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.
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What Is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Method is a time management technique that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster and with less mental fatigue.
The process is simple:
For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.
You work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break.
Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro,” named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal pomodoro timer, and thus the method’s name.
After four “pomodoro” work sessions have passed (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of short breaks), you then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X” and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.
How the Pomodoro Technique Boosts Your Productivity
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:
“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”
If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.
Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.
The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.
You’ll grow to “respect the tomato,” and that can help you to better handle your workload.
More Benefits of the Pomodoro Method
1. Set Time for Distractions
Throughout our work days, we often get distracted every few minutes. This usually happens because we don’t plan in time for breaks when we would actually be allowed to get distracted. The Pomodoro Technique allows breaks throughout your day, so you know when you’ll get to disconnect and be distracted with something else for a moment.
2. Limits Open-Ended Work
Open-ended work like studying, research, or even writing can drag on for hours if you’re not careful. By fitting these kinds of activities into pomodoros, you put a time limit on them, which will help you “complete” them in a certain amount of time and break down work into manageable chunks.
3. Turns Work Into a Game
If you’re a fan of games, the Pomodoro Method can be a lot of fun for you. The timer acts as a countdown for the task at hand, and you’ll feel like you’re working against the clock, trying to “finish a level” or “win the game.” Gamifying important tasks can really help boost your productivity as it offers entertainment, breaking up boring moments with a challenge.
4. Helps You Move Away From Procrastination
For those who struggle with procrastination, the Pomodoro Method can keep you motivated. With this technique, you know when and how long you have to work, so you don’t have to talk yourself into working as it’s already laid out for you.
If you tend to struggle with procrastination, you can also check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.
Downsides of the Pomodoro Technique
Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:
“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”
Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:
“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticking on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”
One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want, or you can use a custom timer, or any timer program on your computer or phone. Even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.
The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work, but if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.
More Productivity Tips
- 7 Effective Time Management Tips To Maximize Your Productivity
- How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)
- How to Concentrate and Train Your Brain to Focus Better
- Motivation: The Ultimate Guide
Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com