Definition: The Pomodoro Technique

5/7/2013 |

Graham Allcott is the owner / director of Think Productive Canada, a UK productivity training and email training company

HOW IT WORKS – by Graham Allcott

Pomodoro Kitchen Timer for Action Logging
By AndyRobertsPhotos

Invented by university student Francesco Cirillo in the late eighties, the Pomodoro Technique is named after those stylish kitchen timers you can buy in the shape of a tomato.

Essentially a tool for managing attention and focus, Pomodoro has at its heart two extremely simple but powerful observations.

That short bursts of attention (25 minutes) followed by short breaks (five minutes) are the best way to preserve your proactive attention throughout the day.

by splitting the day into lots of 25-minute chunks and using a timer, you spend the whole day with the constant buzz of being up against a clock. Time is counted backwards, counting down from 25 to zero, rather than forwards indefinitely until you take a break.

It is a great tool for splitting much larger tasks down into more bite-sized chunks, it can help provide an important sense of focus and can help you resist the temptation to give into distractions.

You can download Pomodoro timer apps for your phone, or download a desktop timer for your computer: they are quieter than using a real kitchen timer. I’ve used both over the years, but I’d advise against using a real one if there are other people in the office!

Pomodoro is also an interesting technique to ensure you don’t focus too much attention on any single area of your work. Used over a day or a week, you can start to view your schedule in terms of Pomodoros spent – and see exactly how little of your time is spent on the stuff you like the least.

1. Define your task(s) for each 25 minute slot

2. Set the timer for 25 minutes

3 Work solely on that task until the timer rings

4. Take a 5 minute break

5. Move onto the net 25 minute Pomodoro (named after the tomato shaped timer)

6. Take a longer break every 4 Pomodoros

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