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The Pomodoro Technique: Rethinking Time Management


The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy aimed at bringing you focus and creative freshness. It may just help you complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process? For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically: You work for 25 minutes, then break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a "pomodoro," the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo, who pioneered the method, used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer.

After four pomodoros have passed — 100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time — you take an additional 15-to-20-minute break. Rather than feeling you have endless time to get things done and then ultimately squandering the hours on distractions, you know you have only 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.

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. Spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated. The forced breaks help cure the frazzled, burnt-out feeling at the end of a day. Just download a pomodoro timer on your phone.

Some pros:

  • You can overcome the adversity of time by adding a layer of planning.
  • Timing your tasks makes you more accountable, minimizing the time you spend procrastinating.
  • It can cure obsessive "multitaskers" by forcing them to focus on one job at a time.

Some cons:

  • Eliminating all distractions and dedicating time to one single initiative isn't easy: It takes practice.
  • Some people say they spend a large amount of time focused on why they don't want to do something or worrying that the end product won't be good enough.
  • Meetings can get in the way of pomodoros: Clients and colleagues may not react favorably to "Be back in five; my timer just went off!" in the middle of a conversation.

The key to overcoming these possible problems and integrating the Pomodoro Technique into your work life is to start small: Accomplish one pomodoro session a day. Then, you can add a timed structure to the process, forcing you to focus in a way that maybe you weren't able to before. Battle your own resistance by sticking to a time management structure. Work with the time you have, rather than against it. Use the method when you want to kick up your productivity a notch. And if you're a manager, you may be able to encourage your employees to use the technique as well.


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