An Introduction to the Pomodoro Technique
By Becky Mollenkamp, ACC
Staying focused isn’t simple. Even when you have pressing deadlines and a to-do list in your planner, it’s easy to get sucked into social media or into a funny text exchange with your biz bestie. Heck, sometimes doing laundry seems more appealing than sitting down and actually working on your business. That’s why I love the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a simple way to force yourself to focus.
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break work into intervals, separated by short breaks. Each interval is called a “pomodoro” (Italian for tomatoes) after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used when he developed the method during college.
How Pomodoro Technique works
- Choose a task you want to accomplish.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Eliminate all distractions (that means turn off the phone and log off Facebook!).
- Work on the task nonstop until the timer goes off.
- Take a 5-minute break.
- After 4 intervals, take a 30-minute break.
Does it sound insanely simple? That’s because it is. Yet, it can really work.
Remember: Nothing is set in stone. You can adapt the Pomodoro Technique to better suit your style. The intervals can be longer or shorter than 25 minutes. The breaks can be longer or shorter than 5 minutes. You can do more or less than 4 intervals before taking a long break. Your long break can be as long as you like. You can do as many intervals as you want in a day. You can use the technique every day or just for certain tasks. You can do it for many days in a row and then not use it again for months.
Make it your own!
I don’t use the Pomodoro Technique all the time. When I do, though, I end up with far more checks on my to-do list. I tend to use it most when I have a big project that I’m dreading or just can’t seem to get motivated to start.
Also, I don’t like setting a timer—it feels too intrusive when it rings. Instead, I often use my vinyl record collection as a timer. One side of an album is usually about 22-minutes long. So, I drop the needle on an album that motivates me and then sit down to work without any other distraction. When the music stops, I get up to flip the album (and maybe use the restroom) as my break time.
Of course, no productivity hack works for 100% of people (here are some other ideas from 30 business owners if this one isn’t for you). You won’t know if the Pomodoro Technique suits your personality, however, until you give it a shot.