Does the Pomorodo technique actually work?
How do you use the Pomodoro technique to get things done?
Are you here because you struggle with procrastination and staying focused? Perhaps you should be working right now, but you got distracted and are procrastinating by looking for ways to improve your productivity?
Then you don’t need to look any further. Here you’ll learn about a crazy simple productivity method called the ‘Pomodoro Technique’. It’s so easy that you’ll want to start working right after reading this post!
Procrastinating and being distracted often go hand in hand. The Pomodoro Technique helps to combat both by combining relatively short periods of focus time with frequent breaks.
We’re going to go through what the Pomodoro Technique is (and means!), how it works, why it actually works, what to do in your 5-minute breaks, how to get started, and some of the best Pomodoro Technique apps.
Get ready to improve your productivity!
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
This might be the first time you have heard of the Pomodoro Technique or perhaps you’ve seen the word here and there. Let’s first take a look at the meaning of the Pomodoro Technique; what is Pomodoro?
Pomodoro means ‘tomato’ in Italian. You might think, what has a tomato to do with a productivity technique?
The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo while he was a university student. Like many of us, he was struggling to focus on his studies.
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He came up with the idea to commit to 10 minutes of focused study time. He grabbed a good old kitchen timer, which happened to be tomato-shaped, set it to 10 minutes, and started studying. The Pomodoro Technique was born.
Francesco further developed the technique and found the balance of 25 minutes of focus time with a 5-minute break the most optimal. Each block of 25 minutes is called a ‘Pomodoro’.
He wrote a whole book about it and the Pomodoro Technique has been a popular productivity method ever since. The method is really simple and anyone can start it right away.
How to Use the Pomodoro Technique
Step #1. Decide on a task to be done
Step #2. Set a timer to 25 minutes and work uninterruptedly on your task – write down any distractions you have during this time on a piece of paper
Step #3. When the timer rings, you can check off one Pomodoro
Step #4. Take a 5-minute break and then work for 25 minutes again
Step #5. After 4 Pomodoros you can take a longer break of 20-30 minutes
The core of the method is to completely focus for 25 minutes and then to give yourself a break and restore your brain with a 5-minute break. Its effectiveness comes from the fact it’s ‘just’ 25 minutes of focus and the neurological benefits of taking a break.
Even if you successfully implement the Pomodoro Technique, you might still have a hard time focusing during your Pomodoro. You can train your brain to stay focused for longer periods of time. Here are 6 exercises to improve your focus you can try today.
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How Does the Pomodoro Technique Improve Your Productivity?
There are several reasons why the Pomodoro Technique works and is so effective for your productivity.
#1. It gives a sense of urgency:
Working with a deadline is one of the most effective ways to beat procrastination. The timer lets you know that you don’t have endless time in your workday – you have 25 minutes to work as much as possible on a task.
#2. It is approachable:
You don’t have to put in too much effort before you get started. Just open the timer on your computer or phone and simply work for only 25 minutes. It is easier to push yourself to work for just 25 minutes rather than thinking you have to work a whole day.
#3. Helps resist distractions:
Nowadays with smartphones, notifications, and social media all around us, it is easy to get distracted. Our brains are even expecting distractions.
The Pomodoro Technique helps to re-train your mind to focus and resist distractions in the 25-minute intervals. If you get a distracting thought, write it down so you can get back to it later if necessary.
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#4. Combat multi-tasking:
Multi-tasking is destructive for productivity and efficiency. When you try to do multiple things at once, your brain doesn’t have the capacity to perform all tasks successfully. So basically, your focus is scattered and not effective. During a Pomodoro interval of 25 minutes, you are supposed to focus on just one single task.
#5. Feel better at the end of your workday:
There are several breaks included in the Pomodoro Technique. These breaks help prevent mental fatigue and give you the opportunity for some physical movement during your work.
This last point of taking breaks is one of the main reasons why the Pomodoro Technique actually works. Read on to learn why your brain needs breaks to be able to stay productive.
Does the Pomodoro Technique Actually Work? And why?
Taking frequent breaks during your work helps. It might sound counter-intuitive, but it has to do with the way your brain works.
The thinking part of your brain is the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC is the part that keeps you concentrated, does logical thinking, gives you willpower, and performs functions like problem-solving and decision-making.
That’s a lot of work! Your PFC has a certain amount of ‘energy’ in-store that needs to be recharged every now and then. Just like your phone needs some fast-charging sometimes.
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The Power of Taking Frequent Breaks
Taking breaks is at the core of the Pomodoro Technique. These breaks help you in several ways.
It’s quite common knowledge that too much sitting is bad for your health, not only physically, but mentally as well. Having several ‘movement breaks’ during your workday improves your health and well-being.
When you do work where you have to make frequent decisions, breaks prevent you from getting ‘decision fatigue’. They don’t need to be big decisions. Even for things like writing a non-standard email reply, you had to make a decision about what your response was going to be.
When decision fatigue kicks in, it can lead to procrastination and not making the best decisions. But if you take a short break, you will recharge your brain’s abilities.
Working too long in a row causes stress and exhaustion. You need breaks for a refreshed mind and to replenish your mental resources. This will lead to improved productivity as well as creativity.
What to do in the 5-minute Pomodoro breaks?
Depending on how you spend your 5-minute breaks, they can feel very short or longer than you expected.
I’ve noticed in my own breaks that if I scroll through social media, the break is over before I feel like it even started. But if I walk around, do some stretches and grab a drink, it feels much longer and is a more value-packed break.
A good break lets you focus on something else than your work. Preferably, you should spend your break in another area than your work environment.
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Here are some examples of what you can do during your 5-minute Pomodoro Technique breaks:
- Stand up and walk around
- Do some stretches using a video
- Stand up, look out of the window (and even daydream a bit)
- Have a bathroom break
- Make some coffee or tea
- Look through a magazine, preferably one with beautiful or interesting visuals
- Have a healthy snack or hydrate
- Take a few deep breaths and/or meditate
- Do some yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong
- Get creative by drawing or doodling something, especially if your work has a lot of numerical and logical work
How to use the Pomodoro Technique?
Before you start your Pomodoros, you should have a clear idea of what tasks you will be working on. Write down all the tasks you want to do for the day.
If you have a large project, break it down into smaller tasks so you can assign one or more Pomodoros per task. Evaluate later how much Pomodoros you actually needed for each task.
If you have a bunch of smaller tasks, combine them into 1 Pomodoro.
In the beginning, it can be hard to estimate how much time you need to assign to a task. But it is one more benefit of the Pomodoro Technique: you learn how much time you need to complete certain tasks – so you can better plan your time in the future.
Now that you have your list of tasks and Pomodoros, it’s time to start working!
The method is very easy to start with, you only need a timer and a piece of paper. You can even use a kitchen timer as Francesco Cirillo did.
Or you can take advantage of digital technology as there are many Pomodoro Technique apps out there that are more than just a timer.
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Best Pomodoro Apps
#1. Focus Keeper (iOS only)
This app gives you the kitchen timer vibes with a red background and actual ticking sound. You can set a goal number of how many Pomodoros you want to finish each day. It also notifies you that you’re in a focus session when you’re browsing other apps on your phone. What’s even better is that your productivity will be recorded in charts, so you can monitor how you have used your time.
PomoDoneApp can be integrated with other task management software like Todoist, Trello, Evernote and Asana, so you can pick the tasks from there. You could also add your own tasks directly in the app. It can be used both on your desktop and mobile. It also gives you reports on how you have spent your time.
#3. Focus Booster: This app is especially interesting if you’re a freelancer because you can choose a client to track time for and you can export it into a CSV format to create invoices. Besides that, it offers a dashboard with a clear overview of your recorded productivity.
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Let’s Get Started
The Pomodoro Technique is very useful for those that struggle with procrastination and staying focused.
It can be used in many lines of work where you have to work by yourself, mostly creative tasks such as programming, writing, content creation, designing, etc.
If your job requires a lot of meetings and/or input from others, the Pomodoro Technique might not be the best productivity method for you.
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Also, if you easily get into a flow of focus or if it better suits your tasks, you can work in Pomodoros of 50 minutes of focus work and 10-minute breaks.
All in all, the Pomodoro Technique will improve your productivity and help you plan better while taking care of your physical and mental health.
Heard of the Pomodoro Technique, but not sure if it works? Click here for how to use the Pomodoro Technique for time management, including ideas for timer apps and 5-minute breaks by @ClearGrowShine. #Pomodoro #ProductivityClick To Tweet
Does the Pomodoro Technique help you with time management?
More About Guest Contributor
Zuba helps young professionals with organizing, productivity and self-care on her blog Clear Grow Shine. ClearGrowShine.com is the roadmap to become your best self and live your dream life.