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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity?

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Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity?

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.

What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Method is a time management method 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[1].

    • 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.

    Pros and Cons of the Pomodoro Technique

    Benefits of the Pomodoro Method

    1. Set Time for Distractions

    Throughout our workdays, 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.

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    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:[2]

    “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:[3]

    “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.”

    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:

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    “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.”[4]

    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.

    When to Try the Pomodoro technique

    The Pomodoro technique will work for you if you:

    • Find distractions derailing your workday
    • Work past the optimal productivity point consistently
    • Have a lot of university student related tasks that take a lot of time such as researching or preparing for a test
    • Enjoy setting goals and achieving them

    Quick Tips for Pomodoro –ing

    1. Invest in a Timer

    You’ll need an app or a timer for the Pomodoro technique to work. You don’t have to invest in special tools or books to do this. The timer on your phone is also a great tool. You need to:

    Choose your tasks for the day: You should choose a task that needs to be completed in a day or a project that you need to make progress on.

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    Ensure that your timer is set to 25 minutes: As we said earlier, you need to break your work hours into 25-minute intervals. This is the time to follow your plan and get things done.

    Work till the timer alerts you: If you are not used to this method, you’ll have a strong urge to check your phone, chat with a friend or reply to emails before the timer alerts you. Do not fall into this trap. Keep working until you get alerted.

    Enjoy your break: Even if you had gotten into the state of flow, it’s time to get up and enjoy your break. Remember, working continuously without taking short breaks can lead to stress, poor concentration, fatigue, and burnout.

    2. Have a Clear Plan

    Before you start working, you need to take at least fifteen minutes to plan out your sessions or pomodoros. Prepare a to-do list and record the number of pomodoros that every task will take. Keep in mind that any task which takes more than five pomodoros should be broken down into smaller tasks for you to stay on top of things.

    Also, small tasks such as calling a colleague or sending emails can be batched into one Pomodoro. If you work for eight hours or more every day, you should ensure that your pomodoros don’t go beyond sixteen in a day. In case this happens, consider postponing the less important tasks.

    3. Overflow Pomodoros Are Essential

    As we’ve said earlier, sixteen pomodoros are ideal for an 8-hour workday. However, it’s important to build a buffer of two to four overflow pomodoros. You should use these pomodoros to work on tasks that take longer than you anticipated or for emergencies that come up during the workday.

    If everything goes as planned, you can use these extra pomodoros to work on low-priority tasks that you tend to push every day or read a good book. It’s always better to have more pomodoros take a longer period than stretching yourself too thin and getting stressed out.

    4. Extend or Reduce the Length of Your Pomodoros

    Some types of work will require you to work for extended periods to get things done. Activities such as writing, coding, or composing will require you to be in the state of flow to get good results. In the state of flow, 25 minutes can be too short.

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    Therefore, extending your sessions together with breaks can increase your level of effectiveness. A study conducted by DeskTime found that a 52-minute session and a break of 17 minutes is the ideal balance for productivity. Others will opt for a 90-minute session with a 20 to 30 – minute break.

    If you are feeling tired or experiencing mental resistance, you should consider reducing your sessions to fifteen or even ten minutes. You should adjust the intervals based on your energy level, the number of tasks that need to get done, and the type of work.

    Best Apps for Tracking Time

    For the Pomodoro technique to work effectively, you’ll need to have a few tools. You’ll use these tools to get the work done and communicate to your loved ones that you are busy. Most importantly, you’ll need them to track your progress. Here are the best apps for tracking time:

    • Focus Booster: This is an amazing app that will help you track the amount of time that you’ve spent on a task. This app allows you to time your sessions, adjust the length of the session and access this data on different gadgets and the web.
    • Rescue Time: Rescue Time is one of the best time-tracking apps that will help you block distractions, track time, and inform you about the time spent by generating reports. More than two million people across the world use this app.
    • Pomodoro Tracker: This is a simple tracker that allows you to input the tasks that you want to work on during the day, time your sessions, and help you keep track of your progress.

    Final Thoughts

    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

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Todoist: The Pomodoro Technique
    [2] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
    [3] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique
    [4] Francesco Cirillo: The Pomodoro Technique

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    20 Essential Apps And Websites For Digital Nomads

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    20 Essential Apps And Websites For Digital Nomads

    Living a life of perpetual travel is pretty exciting – new destinations, new cultures and new incredible people to meet and hang out with! However, working on the road can get pretty hectic at times. As a digital nomad I have found myself in rather awkward situations a lot – from missed deadlines due to incorrect time zone conversion to a nearly missed plane when I forgot to print out my booking and confused the time (I did catch that plane though!).

    Being your own boss is equally awesome and hellish. Juggling numerous tasks at once and getting things done super-fast with a terrible wi-fi connection requirea killer organizational skills and zen-like concentration. Try using the next 20 websites and apps to make your life as a digital nomad easier, less stressful and even more exciting!

    1. Trello

    Trello is your go-to website to stay organized and work super-efficiently on the road. It’s a free service that allows you to create numerous boards for your ongoing projects and plans. Tired of having numerous notes scattered around different apps and lengthy email threads with your clients or team? Just drag and drop them all to Trello, where you can easily collaborate, quickly exchange ideas and notes in the form of cards, leave comments and track the overall progress of the project. You can create numerous boards and organize them the way you like, upload files to each, set deadlines and notifications, plus easily share everything with one click.

    My Trello contains two sets of boards – personal and business. I use the first to keep all my travel plans neat and make sure I won’t confuse the flight time or overstay my visa; the second to keep a visual account of my personal goals and various arrangements. The business board is where I have a list of ongoing projects composed into simple to-dos with their current statuses –  along with all the comments from my clients and a separate column for follow-ups.

    Trello is an incredible free alternative to similar project management softwares I used before and it can be used for tackling any job – from house renovation to multi-stage marketing campaign! Also available as an app for iOS and Android devices to get updates on the go.

    2. f.lux

    As a digital nomad you often find yourself working late at night or early morning to keep up with your clients’ time zones. Love checking your email or reading a few articles from your iPad before going to bed? (I do!). Even if you don’t feel it yet, your eyes are seriously suffering from those habits and you can end up having troubles with sleeping as the blue light from your devices negatively impacts your sleeping patterns. Use f.lux – a handy software that will automatically adjust the color of your computer’s display to the time of day – warm at night and like sunlight during the day. F.lux allowed me to be more productive in the mornings and made it easier to slow down my activity in the evenings. As a digital nomad it is essential to stay refreshed as your income depends solely on your productivity. Besides, haven’t we escaped the cubicle to have a better work/life balance and more rest in the first place?

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    3. Focus@Will

    As we often find ourselves working at various places around the globe – from a crowded bus station to a jam-packed bar (the only place that has decent wi-fi in the area) – concentrating on your work gets extremely difficult. That’s where Focus@Will comes to rescue. The service offers a wide selection of white noise and simple tunes selected according to a neuroscience-based approach. It seems to work pretty great as I stayed way more concentrated on my work compared to the times when I just blasted my favorite tunes and murmured along. A 30-day free trial has a limited selection of tracks and will stop playing them in an hour (although it could be restarted immediately). The paid service will cost you around $10 for three months. Also available as a free app for iOS and Android devices.

    4. Shopify

    Let’s admit it, being a digital nomad and working solo gets challenging at times. There are days when you feel like a Renaissance man trying to tackle all things at once and getting expertise in numerous areas. That’s especially true when you are just about to launch your business website, blog or an online store. If you are a creative, you have only basic knowledge (if any) in CSS, HTML or integrated payment systems, so you spend endless hours figuring out how things work instead of doing what you are really good at and earning money.

    Try Shopify – a service providing custom no-hassle ecommerce solutions. They offer everything from secure hosting and mobile-optimized websites to secure check-outs with some 70 payment getaways to choose from and assistance with running your online marketing campaign. The rates are incredibly affordable and start from just $29 per month for unlimited access to all their services and features or opt for a 14 day free trial to test them out first!

    5. Rescue Time

    Proper time management is another great struggle all digital workers face. How many times you have found yourself spending over 12 hours a day in front of your screen and not having all things done? Yeah, it happens to me quite in a while, so I’ve started using Rescue Time – to stay on top of my productivity while still having a normal work/life balance. Install it on your computer and all devices to have an accurate picture of how much time you spend doing certain activities or browsing certain sites (khm..cat videos on YouTube). At the end of each week you’ll receive an email with a fair statement on your (un)productivity.

    Rescue Time enables you to give more accurate deadlines to your clients; create accurate hourly invoices as you know exactly how much time you’ve spent doing a certain task and adjusting your rates accordingly and eliminate random activity during your working hours. You can use Light Rescue Time version for free or opt for the premium plan at $6 per month.

    6. Every Time Zone

    As you probably work with people based anywhere from New Zealand to the West Coast keeping an eye on the deadline or updating them on your progress at 9 am each day may get tricky. Just as sending follow-ups, project proposals and invoices at the right time of the day. Every Time Zone is another great solution for keeping proper track of the time – your client’s time. Add all time zones you need, add your time in the marker at the top and see where this lands in everyone else’s day. No more crazy maths with figuring out when do you need to ring up Joe on Skype if he asked to do that at 11 am EST.

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    7. XE Currency

    How many currencies do you have in your wallet? My guess is more than two. As a digital nomad and perpetual traveler you have to keep track on the conversion rates and different currencies all the time. To make sure you are charging an equally fair price in USD/EU/GBP or any other currency out there use XE Currency. Get live conversion rates instantly or add up a list of your preferred and sync ahead of time to have instant offline access from any device. XE Currency is available as a web service, iOS, Android, Windows Phone apps and more.

    8. Trail Wallet

    My second essential money app for digital nomads is Trail Wallet (currently iOS only). It’s a beautifully crafted and easy-to-use app for tracking your expenses across multiple countries and currencies. You can organize your spendings by country or my month, set max daily budgets and add each dollar you’ve spent on the go. At the end of the month the app will tell you if you gone over your budget or where exactly did the cash flow. It’s perfect for analyzing the cost of living and working at different cities and countries, thus finding the optimal home-base for you when you get tired of being on the road and need to settle down for a while.

    9. Xero

    And to keep better track of your business-related expenses try Xero. Arguably, the best online bookkeeping and accounting service out there for all the non-accountants. It’s perfect for sending invoices, keeping track of the cash-flow and setting payment notifications on credit cards and recruiting payments. It neatly categorizes all your bank transactions and reconciles them with the transactions you have made in Xero to keep things even more simple. Available for numerous iOS and Android devices, so you can always have access to your data at no time.

    10. Tripit

    Tripit is one of the best travel planners out there! It’s free, fast and most importantly – works off-line. Just say no more to papers and lost emails. Forward all your booking confirmations – hotels, flights, car rental etc and let the app do all the magic for you by turning it into an easy-to-follow itinerary. You can set up notifications and get access to your data from any device without internet connection. Tripit reduced my frustration of arriving to the wrong terminal or roaming around the new city with my baggage as I haven’t written down the hotel address correctly. It’s a great app I seriously recommend using it to basically anyone who travels.

    11. 1Password

    Sharing sensitive data, especially passwords with your clients or team and keeping track of them can get challenging. That’s why I’ve started using 1Password – a super secure password-sharing service that allows you to create special vaults with a set of passwords to tools and services only accessible to the people you’ve shared it with. Available for numerous devices, the service gives you peace of mind when sharing anything sensitive via unprotected networks. Speaking of which…

    12. Private Internet Access

    Keep all your data and computer protected by opting for Private Internet Access. Often we need to make those last minute payments or credit card purchases and the only internet available is a suspicious unprotected network your device somehow found. By using an anonymous encrypted VPN and a private IP you can be 100% sure none of your payment data will be fished or passwords stolen.

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    13. Workfrom

    Find the best coffee shops and cafes in your area with this service. Workfrom has a great pool of venues in major US cities – New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle – and more destinations worldwide to be added soon! The service is free to join and you’ll get access to numerous cool spots with unbiased opinions of wi-fi connection and cappuccino quality from digital nomads just like you. Reviews also include price range, meals available, general atmosphere and noise range, along with some pro-tips on where to find sockets and which table is the most secluded. I have discovered some of my all time favorites this way like Mr Bean in Amsterdam.

    14. Spotted by Locals

    Another awesome service to discover good meals and thrilling events at your current base. Spotted by Locals is not that typical city guide with boring touristy routes, but an amazing resources with awesome recommendations from the locals on things to do and places to check out. After all, you’ve chosen a location independent lifestyle to explore the world more, not just spend hours tapping on the keywords in a different environment.

    Currently, the website has numerous recommendations for all major European cities – Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Warsaw and many more, plus it gradually expands into North America with Boston, LA, Toronto and Montreal guides recently added. You can browse around the free categorized selection of activities at the website or pay$ 2.99 for a PDF guide with all tips and places neatly listed on the map. Or opt for iOS or Android app ($3.99 each) to gain offline access to one of the city guides along with a detailed map.

    15. Jawbone UP

    Now when you know where to go and what to see, here’s a handy app that will help you get unstuck from your laptop. Jawbone UP will gently nag you when it’s time to get up and unwind a bit. Install the app and connect it to all your hardware, than let the Up Activity Tracker (a lovely bracelet) analyze your sleeping and activity patterns to help you creating a better lifestyle. The app will monitor and analyze all your actions and suggest you a healthier schedule, help you sleep better and keep up with the exercise routine (which gets erratic when you are on the move). Why do we need more time if we don’t spend it wise, right? The app is free for iOS and Android, however you’ll have to pay 129$ for the bracelet tracker or 49.99$ for the clip.

    16. SugarSync

    Some like DropBox, others opt for Google Drive, yet my go-to cloud storage service is SugarSync. It’s simpler, more powerful and has a really slick design. After you install it, you just need to right-click the file/folder to instantly back them up at the cloud. Besides, any further change you make to that data will be automatically synchronized. Large files get uploaded extra fast and you can get 250 GB storage space for just $99.99 per year. Also you can access, share and edit all your files via free iOS or Android app supported on numerous devices. Now, I’ve finally stopped worrying what should I do if my laptop gets broken/stolen.

    17. Contactually

    If you don’t like to get broke and return home, you have to invest a fair share of your time in building ongoing relationships with your clients, vendors or customers depending on what do you do for a living. To avoid this whole thing becoming a huge pain try using Contactually – a simple, yet powerful service that will tell you when and whom you should keep in touch with and how you could maximize your ROI by connecting with the right people at the right time. It will send you notifications when you’ve fallen out of touch with certain contacts (which can mean missed opportunities in the perspective) and prompt when you should reconnect with the most important contacts from your network by providing helpful context clues like social updates and recent conversations to make the whole thing look more genuine. The service boasts that their users get up to 40% more referrals after using their service (backed by case studies) which is kind of essential for you if you’d like to live the nomadic life and work for yourself!

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    18. Schedule Once

    If you are working on multiple projects with multiple clients at a time – Schedule Once is your kick-ass service to schedule online meetings and conferences. Create a sleek pre-set calendar when you are available and send people a unique link that allows them to select a suitable time for both of you to connect. The service is fantastic for anyone offering consulting services or coaching sessions and costs just 5$ per month!

    19. Spaxtel

    Sometimes the internet gets so crappy that calling by Skype is impossible. Or you have a very-very important conversation scheduled and you don’t want any possible glitches to interrupt you. That’s when it’s worth using Spaxtel – a cool service that enables you to make land-line quality phone calls via callback. You don’t need to install any software or have internet access. The rates depends on the quality of call you choose (the lowest discount is pretty great) and the countries from/to you are calling. So far, the price proved to be nearly Skype-affordable for a better overall quality of connection.

    20. Earth Class Mail

    Snail mail isn’t that popular these days, but you still get some important stuff via it. Say bills and some paychecks. If you don’t want to bug your parents or friends’ to deal with your mail while you are out, try using Earth Mail Class – an affordable mail forwarding service that scans and forwards your mail to the e-mail address of your choice, deposits your checks (for a fee), saves PDFs of your postal mail online and offers in-person pickup and package signing.

    Featured photo credit: Avi Richards via unsplash.com

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