Does it really work for everyone?
Let’s find out the pros and cons of using the Pomodoro Technique from the people who tried it.
CEO, Yolanda Kaye Enterprises | Creator, From Hustle to Flow | Personal Results Coach | Author
The Pomodoro technique is a proven and popular time management technique of time blocking. Using short frequent breaks, the Pomodoro technique helps you focus on getting a specific task done with limited distractions.
Traditionally, the Pomodoro technique has you working on one task for 25 minutes, then taking a 3 to 5-minute break. After repeating this for 3 or 4 times, you then take a longer 15 – 30-minute break and repeat the entire cycle again. After trying this technique over several days, I was able to focus on getting one task done.
Working during a set amount of time caused me to be mindful of what I was working on and not get distracted by anything else. This was extremely helpful for those tasks that I did not want to do.
I did find myself getting frustrated with the clock. I would just get into the flow of working at around 25 minutes and then the timer would go off. I didn’t take a “break” from the work because I would still be thinking about the task even though I wasn’t working on it.
For some, 25 minutes is just enough time to work without losing focus and getting distracted. For others, they can work longer. I liked the concept of the technique, but I had to make it work for me.
After several tries, I now block time in increments of 45 minutes with a 10-15 minute break in between. I usually do 2 -3 cycles of this before I take a longer break of 30 – 45 minutes.
I’ve been practicing my version of this technique for over a year and it’s helped increased my productivity tremendously.
Related: Best Productivity and Time Management Books
Andrew B. Quagliata, Ph.D.
Lecturer of Management Communication, Cornell University
The Pomodoro Technique works for me, and I encourage my students at Cornell University to use it.
I teach and meet with students all day at work, and when I get home I give my attention to my family. As a result, I struggle to find time to write.
Once I learned about the Pomodoro Technique I began using it and it has helped me develop a more consistent writing habit. Once my children go to bed, I shut off all distractions and begin to write.
My goal is often just to write for 25 minutes, but after I reward myself with a short break I can sometimes complete three 25-minute cycles.
Students in my business writing course seem to appreciate that I not only teaching them how to write, but how to manage their writing process. The Pomodoro Technique is one of the many tools I share to help my students develop stronger writing habits.
Beth Brombosz, Ph.D.
Author | Writer
As a writer, I use the Pomodoro Technique extensively for my work. I’ve used it to both write my own books and to ghostwrite books for my clients. Being able to take short, regular breaks helps me stay focused on the task at hand, which ultimately makes me a better business owner and writer.
When I’m doing very highly creative things (like writing), my brain tends to need a break after a while. As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, I can only keep my attention on one task for so long.
But, if I’m working on a deadline or if I have a project I need to finish quickly, I can’t just write for a while and then walk away for the rest of the day. So, a couple of years ago, I decided to use the Pomodoro Technique as I wrote and I was shocked by how well it worked.
The Technique has given me the perfect amount of working time for my brain to be on and the rest.
It’s actually helped me work more efficiently, too–I can get more words written each day because I’m able to give my brain the breaks it needs. I found that forcing myself to write for hours on end just stifled my creativity.
Being able to take short breaks, however, allowed me to work longer without getting major writer’s block, and without being completely exhausted mentally.
Time Management & Productivity Coach
Most people have a misconception that you should use Pomodoro all the time, to break your whole day into 25-minute chunks, but I think that pretty unrealistic for most people, in most jobs, including me (both when I was in corporate, and now that I work for myself).
However, I think Pomodoro is an excellent tool in 3 circumstances:
- Doing tasks you are dreading. It’s only 25 minutes; and either you can stop after one Pomodoro and pat yourself on the back, or you’ll be in the flow and can keep going.
- Doing batches of like tasks. Answering emails, or texting people back, LinkedIn messages, Facebook messages. Essentially, you can game-ify Pomodoro and try to see how many X you can get done in 25 minutes.
- Working on a big project without feeling stuck or overwhelmed.
Most often, I use Pomodoro to process email or to break up a large project that requires deep focus (like creating a slide deck for a talk I’m going to give).
Productivity Speaker | Coach | Author
I’ve used the Pomodoro technique for about eight years for tasks that I get sucked into, like social media or surfing, and for tasks, I don’t want to do or find myself procrastinating on.
I use an app called Focus Booster so I can see the little clock ticking down of how much time I have left. This keeps me on task. I also find it important to be able to track my time and see how long it takes me to do certain tasks since we tend to underestimate what we can get done by about 1/3.
I find it most helpful in the afternoons or evenings when I am fatigued and low-energy. Knowing I only have a 25-minute block is helpful.
Director & Co-Founder, Clydebank Media
Yes, the Pomodoro technique absolutely works but committing to use it does not automatically guarantee success.
The slight learning curve it takes to get into the habit of your Pomodoro sessions aside, your success is based on your ability to organize and queue your tasks–and I have a lot of tasks.
I use a kanban board* to organize my tasks. A kanban board organizes tasks based on their status. Think of a (digital) pinboard with columns marked out. Each task is a card, and the columns are a task status. As tasks are completed they travel along with the board through the various stages such as to do, waiting for details, in progress, completed, etc.
Using this method to stack tasks means that my Pomodoro sessions can move seamlessly from one task to the next and I can squeeze every ounce of performance out of them. Plus, the manual action of moving tasks to the ‘complete’ column along with the ability to see my entire day at a time is satisfying and reduces my overall task-related stress.
In my opinion, without a robust underlying task organization method, your Pomodoro efforts will suffer but the small amount of admin work pays off in a big way when it comes to capitalizing on the increased productivity and focus that the Pomodoro system delivers.
Founder & CEO, Prep Expert
I find that the Pomodoro Technique works great for entrepreneurs and people who let themselves work non-stop for hours at a time that tries to avoid breaks. Our work culture today is so completely enthralled to productivity that even the idea of a break feels almost sacrilegious.
The pros I’ve found while using it are:
- Keeps my focus sharp because of the time constraints I impose on myself.
- Helps specify tasks into easily actionable items.
- Improves mood by constantly seeing what’s accomplished in these productivity bursts.
Con-wise, the biggest ones I found when using it were:
- Forcing my brain to slow down during earned breaks when the natural tendency is to continue.
- Breaking down tasks and organizing them enough to make them actionable in those segments.
Whenever I worked on more strategy-related projects, I found that the technique would interrupt my flow and train of thought more easily. However, for more mundane and execution tasks, Pomodoro works great.
I was advised by my optometrist to set a timer for every 20 minutes to remind myself to take a break from staring at the computer screen. “Every 20 minutes, focus away from the computer at something at least 20 meters away, for at least 20 seconds.“
After practicing this for a day or two, I found that including some stretches and deep breathing away from my desk for around a minute also helped give my mind and body a break, and was helpful for my productivity in general.
On the flip side, breaking up a particularly demanding task with timed intervals can affect your concentration – after the break, you return to the screen feeling refreshed, but also need a moment to get back into the swing of the task.
Founder, Success to Saving
I have been using the Pomodoro technique for three years now and love it. It has let me accomplish more than I would overwise and balance life and a career in strategy and passion blog in personal finance.
- Just long enough to get work done and short enough that any email or text can wait that long for an answer.
- Long enough to make progress on almost any task.
- Manageable chunks of time that can fit between meetings and daily commitments
- Progress is easily tracked through the number of Pomodoro going up and ticks for distractions going down.
- Requires others not to disturb you.
- Gives you a very honest look at how focused you are.
I first experimented with the Pomodoro technique about 8 years ago. I immediately found a focused benefit in blocking off a set amount of time and restricting myself to only work on a task in that 25 minute period, and then I could take a break after.
However, I found that 25 minutes is just too short to get into work requiring deep focus. Also, a couple of minute breaks very easily creeps into a 15 or 30-minute break.
So what I do now is split the day up into four blocks of 90 minutes of focus work and 30 minutes of rest. This gives me plenty of time to both get into the deep work and feel like I’ve had a satisfying break.
CEO, 25 Eagles Publishing
I began a publishing company many years ago, starting with only my written work. I would target a long tail keyword, to begin with, and write a novel or novella to hit that niche.
I average around 5k words per day, and the POM technique is very helpful, especially for someone like me with ADHD.
I recommend it to all my writers, and it’s a great way to enforce actual productivity onto yourself while still giving you a bit of breathing room to make sure you don’t have total creative burnout.
I worked my way up in productivity using POMs, starting with 5/5s and peaking at 25/5s, for 50 minutes on and 10 minutes off per hour. They are essential to anyone who finds themselves drifting constantly away from their work.
Owner, AT Home Buyers
As an entrepreneur and business owner, productivity and self-motivation are a part of my daily life and obstacles. I first experimented with the Pomodoro technique in my undergraduate studies. The Pomodoro Technique is excellent at getting me started on my work and helps me to break the initial “focus friction” when starting.
However, once I build up some momentum and start to hit a groove, I find 25 minutes to be too short. Once I get over the initial friction and start hitting a groove, I simply increase the length of working time to 35 minutes, then to 45 minutes, and eventually an hour.
The Pomodoro Technique is also not immune to distractions. To get the best results, I recommend removing yourself from distractions by getting in a working environment where you won’t be bothered and setting all devices to “do not disturb.”
Then enjoy the bursts of focused productivity!
Co-Founder & CTO, Altcoin Fantasy
I’m writing this because I’m a true believer in the Pomodoro technique as I’ve been using it for the past couple of years.
In our industry (software engineering), we are most creative and productive when we enter a state of flow and by using the Pomodoro technique, it really enables me to enter that uber productive state. Flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does and as a result, the work is done in a productive way.
Another benefit that I’ve seen by using the Pomodoro technique is that by training yourself to focus on a task 25 minutes at a time, you allow yourself to be free of distractions.
The idea is that if a distraction comes up (ie. a new e-mail or an SMS), you let it go until the end of the Pomodoro. This helps me with handling context switching, which is another productivity killer.
Yes – the Pomodoro works! Even more effective long-term for me, however, was tracking my activities down to the minute, every single day, for a month. A few years back, my productivity increased dramatically after I tried this technique.
By tracking your activity down to the minute every single day for a minute, you will notice an incredible amount of time in your day and week that’s occupied by frequently recurring, short activities.
True, tracking your time takes time, but the results will alter your life – well worth the dedication and time investment for a month!
Software Engineering Lead, Prettiest Parties
I like to keep myself busy, and love exploring new ideas. This means I usually have at least 6 side projects going on at any one time.
This became a problem. My side projects are a lot more interesting than my job and university studies. I found I lacked motivation and I was struggling to meet deadlines at work and university.
A work colleague introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique several months ago as a revision tool. Since then I have started using it for work, university and also my side projects to maximize my output and productivity.
I use a Firefox add-on called Tomato Timer to provide me with little popup notifications. Most of my side projects center around my laptop, so Firefox is always open.
At work, we pick tasks from a large todo list. The Pomodoro Technique forces me to break down the tasks I pick up into smaller chunks. This focus on small bursts of activity helps make my tasks much more achievable.
It’s a lot easier to tell myself this task is going to take 1 burst or 3 bursts rather than 3 days. This has meant my productivity at work has skyrocketed leading to a recent promotion.
For university, I use the Pomodoro Technique for revision. I am on an employer-funded university program, so I work a day job and study evenings. I find I have no issue getting through the course material and lectures.
My problems come from revision. The thought of endless revision with no goal other than “pass the exam in 6 months” drives me into the open arms of procrastination. The Pomodoro Technique gives me the goals I need to stay focused on.
In this way, I also set goals for myself. For example, I have a schedule where I aim to do 5 bursts on a Monday night, 8 bursts in the middle of the week, and then ramp down to 3 bursts on a Friday to relax. This gives me short term and medium term goals in a flexible way that I can adjust to suit my schedule.
Although it was my side projects that caused me to adopt the Pomodoro Technique, I now use it to maximize side project output. My side projects are born out of interests and hobbies. It’s very easy to become distracted in the research phase, finding cool new software, tech, and ideas to pursue.
Using the Pomodoro Technique not only helps keep me focused on a task, but forces me to lay out a roadmap of tasks required for making progress.
Most recently, I’ve used it to help me start a new children’s princess party entertainment company based in Essex, Prettiest Parties. Thanks to the Pomodoro Technique I’ve managed to go from an idea of taking bookings in one month. This is on top of my day job and studying for university.
So for me, the pros are pretty clear. It’s focused my life and allowed me to do things I wouldn’t have managed before like starting a business. I like the different goal levels that I can set, and well-defined timings stop me feeling guilty when I’m having time to myself.
For me, there have been very few cons. The main difficulty I had with the system at first was the self-discipline to stay on topic. I used to use Leechblock to block access to Reddit and other sites that sucked my time. I did succumb to the temptation to override the block a lot at first. But, over time it is the Pomodoro Technique that has helped me develop the self-discipline needed to pursue my goals.
Alston J. Balkcom
Connecticut-licensed Insurance Agent, CT Medicare Health Plans
The Pomodoro Technique was my cure for a growing Internet distraction addiction.
I’m self-employed and work mostly at home on my computer. I’m blessed that I can earn a good living without walking farther than my mailbox most days. But Netflix, Facebook and a lot of other unprofitable distractions are never more than a click away.
Earlier this year, there were too many days when I repeatedly promised myself I’ll just hang out on Facebook for a few more minutes until I was too tired to do any actual work. This started to affect my income. It also started to scare me. I knew I had to replace my bad habit with a better one if I wanted to keep my business (and my home).
Then I stumbled across the Pomodoro Method. (Actually, I had to stumble across it several times before I started doing it.)
I added a little twist that I think turbocharges it. I listen to classical music that brings helps me generate more theta waves during my focus time. I feel like the synergy of Pomodoro and music rewired my brain in just two days.
In the past, I’ve gotten big benefits from both meditation and neurofeedback. But neither worked for me as quickly. I’m able to focus and think more fluidly than I have in decades. And the magnetic pull of social media gets weaker and weaker.
Marketing Manager, Candide
I used the Pomodoro technique every day for the whole of March, and it did everything I’d always been told it should. I thought I was an efficient worker before, but using Pomodoro enabled me to shorten my work day from a draining 8-6 to a standard 9-5. And I was even getting more done every day!
So I can’t deny the Pomodoro technique works. But it’s not perfect. In fact, I don’t use it so much anymore. Why not? Because after four weeks of daily Pomodoro-ing, I was exhausted.
Working in intense 25-minute bursts is tiring, and the 5-minute breaks aren’t enough if you’re really going for it. At the end of a long day, I found myself spending each break wondering how I was going to get through the rest of the day and dreading the remaining Pomodoros.
I still use the Pomodoro technique on Mondays, and sometimes on other days if a project has a tight deadline. But I can’t do it all the time. It’s a great system, but it’s not sustainable for me.
Marketing Operations Director, Software Path
I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique over the past five years and I have found it has a number of benefits beyond time management including an increased emphasis on task prioritization and project planning.
The very act of structuring your time in 25-minute intervals leads to more thorough project planning as achievable and tangible subtasks are required for any efficient Pomodoro process. The more work you do breaking a task down into 25-minute tasks, the simpler a project and the resulting Pomodoros become.
Prioritization of work within these subtasks is also essential to reduce distractions and ensure you don’t get stuck halfway through a Pomodoro. Looking at subtasks ahead of a Pomodoro, you can quickly see where you will need to seek feedback from your team or spot dependencies from other tasks. This will help increase the chance of developing strong work relationships.
The danger of the Pomodoro technique is that you attempt to force it into the way you currently work rather than accommodating the necessary planning and prioritization.
This can actually cause more harm than good due to the premature cessation of poorly planned tasks.
Managing Director & CEO, LeaseFetcher
I think the Podomoro Technique does actually have some effect – it does depend on the type of task and the type of project that you’re trying to compete with it though.
It seems particularly well suited to content-writing and copywriting tasks. I’ve had my content team using this technique for the last month and they’ve reported that it’s helped to improve their concentration.
There’s solid evidence out there that our concentration span is generally around 10 to 20 minutes. Anything longer than that and we can find that our attention starts to flag.
There’s even evidence that digital technology is making our attention-span even shorter. I think the Podomoro Technique goes a long way to mitigating the worst effects of this.
General Manager, DT Driver Training
The Pomodoro technique has frustratingly short intervals.
After a break or distraction, it can take 20 minutes to get back into ‘flow’ (a highly productive state of work). I modify how I use it so it’s a ‘double-Pomodoro’: I do 50 minutes of work and 10 minutes of something else which might be a break or it could just be small tasks that have accumulated.
This means it’s possible to get more deeply into a problem. I also found that the double-Pomodoro technique suits my workload which tends to be two or three chunky, mentally challenging projects swimming in a sea of smaller tasks.
Five minutes isn’t enough to get the smaller tasks done, but 10 minutes is as many are similar and require some setup (e.g. logging into a website or opening a piece of software). Ten minutes is also a better quality break if you choose to take it as a break.
Researcher | Author | Speaker | Podcast Host, Exam Study Expert
I’ve been using Pomodoro for years to help me focus on work and get more done. I find it has three big advantages and one thorny disadvantage.
The biggest advantage for me is in avoiding the many distractions and time-sinks that can ensnare the unwary home-office entrepreneur. I find the discipline of the “ticking clock” a powerful incentive to keep my mind on the task at hand, and get through the to-do list faster.
The second benefit for me lies in keeping my mind clear of non-work-related thoughts. As anyone who has read Cal Newport’s Deep Work will know, anything that’s running through your mind that is not related to the job in front of you is going to be sapping attention and mental resources.
One of the lesser-known details of the full implementation of the Pomodoro technique is the practice of recording all distracting thoughts on a separate sheet, so you can get free your mind of them, and come back to deal with them later.
Finally, I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with recording my Pomodoro successes. I use an app called “Forest” which lets me grow a tree or bush every time I complete a Pomodoro block, giving me the satisfaction of seeing a little garden fill up by the end of a day’s hard work.
The main disadvantage – and probably the reason I don’t use it every single day – is the challenge of stopping working at the end of a Pomodoro block.
Francesco Cirillo would say that you need to be as disciplined about stopping when time’s up as you are about keeping focused when the timer is counting down.
Trouble is, so much of my work requires deep, intense thinking, and when I get “in the zone” or into a state of “flow”, the very last thing I want to do is stop work! I want to keep going and take advantage of that burst of intense productivity and creativity for as long as it’s with me.
I don’t use Pomodoro all the time, then, but I find it invaluable as a “crutch” to support me through a slow or low-energy day, or to get my discipline back when I’m returning to work after an absence or holiday.
Certified Mindful Lifestyle & Stress Management Coach, The Quiet Zone |
Author, The Quiet Zone – Mindful Stress Management for Everyday People
I’ve been using variations of the Pomodoro Technique for about 30 years. It’s extremely useful in creating mindfulness in the workplace, and for most tasks, it’s extremely effective.
By prioritizing tasks and focusing exclusively on one at a time, we create several results. Time is effectively utilized, the stress of “How am I possibly going to get this all done?” is removed, and because we’re focusing closely on the task at hand, fewer errors are made.
By giving ourselves a few minutes to regroup after each set of tasks and physically checking them off a list, we’re positively reinforcing our accomplishment and self-confidence.
Sometimes the process has to be altered to fit a particular situation. For example, when I managed a team of hairdressers and estheticians, it wasn’t possible to schedule a break after 25 minutes since the client was likely still in their chair.
The procedure I created for my team was to focus solely on the client they had at the time, and after 2 or 3 clients they could take a break, depending on how heavily they were booked.
Alternatively, I allowed breaks while clients were processing, if possible. This avoided burn out and stress for the stylist and helped them feel like they accomplished more, despite the fact that they couldn’t allow specific time for each task.
The basic concepts of the Pomodoro Technique can be applied to just about any job or task. You might have to get creative, but the result is improved efficiency and employee satisfaction.
I can pinpoint the exact moment my novel-writing career took off a few years ago — it happened right after I adopted the Pomodoro Technique. Once I started using a timer, eliminating distractions, and tracking my results, everything changed.
My writing speed more than doubled. Before, it would take me more than a year to write a book. Once I started using the Pomodoro Technique every day, that dropped to about six months. (I’m even faster now, because of other efficiencies I’ve adopted.)
The main benefit of the technique, obviously, is that it focuses you on the task at hand. That alone makes you more productive. But there are other hidden benefits.
The forced five-minute breaks every half hour might not seem all that important. But they are crucial. I’ve had countless breakthrough ideas just by getting up and walking away from my desk when the timer goes off. I don’t know why it works, but it does.
Another often-overlooked benefit of the technique is that it helps keep a lid on perfectionism. I have a bad habit of spending too much extra time on a project in an effort to get it “just right”. But standing up and walking away from my computer every half-hour gives me much-needed perspective.
When the timer rings, I ask myself if it’s time to call a project finished and move on to the next. That keeps me mindful of where I spend my time.
One disadvantage of the technique is that it feels rigid and constrictive, at least in the beginning. Because it is. But once you get the hang of it, it’s also liberating, because you can get things done so much faster.
When you first start with the technique, it can also be immensely frustrating to find yourself constantly interrupted by others who don’t “get it.” But you can train them. It will get better.
If you stick with the Pomodoro Technique, it will revolutionize the way you work. It’s that simple. It really is the key to unlocking maximum results from your efforts every day.
Health, Wellness, and Lifestyle Journalist, HighYa
When I use the Pomodoro method, it’s through a browser extension on Firefox that is set for 25 minutes of work and five minutes of rest. After four rounds, the extension automatically triggers a 30 minute rest period.
I have it set so that all distracting websites (social media and email) are blocked during these work periods for extra productivity.
I tend to go in spurts where I will use the timer continuously for two or more days and then I will ignore it for weeks on end before trying again. That’s because I find it fatiguing as a writer.
The way my productivity works, sometimes I need to fiddle online for a while before I get the inspiration to write, and then when I finally get in the zone I don’t want to take frequent rests. Sometimes the timer disrupts my “flow” and causes me to lose my train of thought during the mandatory rest periods.
However, I’ve also found that the method works well when I’m struggling to get in a writing mood by forcing me to try to be productive for smaller chunks of time.
Working for 25 minutes never feels overwhelming, so I often find myself willing to put in the effort and then surprisingly myself by getting in a good flow after a few minutes that I can maintain for the rest of the workday through the technique’s work-rest cycling.
For this reason, I think that the Pomodoro method has its perks, but it’s not the ideal productivity method for all forms of work.
I believe that the timer works well as a reminder to get up and stretch throughout the workday, but that’s not necessarily something I need because I have two dogs who are always up for me to take a break. That’s why I keep the Pomodoro timer on hand for when I need an extra level of support but tend to rely on my own internal energy levels on a daily basis for completing my work.
Business Coach, Cohen Coaching
I use the Pomodoro Technique off and on. I will use it for several days to a week, get overly involved in a project, and then not use it for a while. I do like it and I do get more work done when I use it. So why don’t I use it all the time?
Pros: It keeps me on track and lets me see what I have going on. It requires breaks, which I sometimes don’t take if I am not using the technique. I have a list of things to do and I can see the day laid out before me.
Cons: There is no good app out there for a PC. There used to be one or two, but they went away. I have no idea the name of the program I have on my desktop right now. But there are no instructions (in fact, in trying to find a name, I discovered how to resort tasks just now.) Once you are done with a task, there is no place to put it, you just delete it.
The last con is me. I am easily distracted so I can walk away and since the program doesn’t pause, I can use up 20 units on a 5-minute task. Which looks bad to me. And then I stop using it.
Build a better version and I will be all over it!
Personal Finance Expert, Money Smart Guides
I’ve been using the Pomodoro Technique daily for almost a year now and love it.
Before I started using it, I would get overwhelmed with all the different things I had to do to run my business. Additionally, when I would work, I would easily get distracted and waste a lot of time.
Using the Pomodoro Technique focuses on me and helps me get a lot more done every day. And by getting things done, I get excited and motivated to get more done every day.
The only downside (if you consider it that) is that sometimes I skip the short break to do anything and just restart the timer on my next task. I can honestly say that the growth of experienced in my business this past year has been due to using this technique.
I’m a big Pomodoro fan! I’ve been using it for years, and, combined with Cal Newport’s concept of Deep Work (100% undistracted work), it helped me become much more productive. I feel like I’ve been more productive for the past 2 years of my life than the rest of it!
What Pomodoro really helps me with the most is how I can focus on each time allotment I have.
When I work, I work deep. When I take a break, I also enjoy my break — even if it’s grabbing some ice cream, taking a walk, or reading some poetry. Pomodoro helped me enjoy particular parts of my life more — work or otherwise– and gave me a bigger sense of self-achievement, overall.
Senior Link Builder Strategist, Link Building
My daily work routine includes a variety of different tasks for different projects and the Pomodoro technique is the only technique that helps me stay productive.
Before Pomodoro, I would usually work on one task and then, when I see an email from someone or a new message in chat, I would immediately switch to that message and interrupt working on the initial task. As a result, I would end up mentally tired by the end of the day because of constant refocusing.
When I first discovered Pomodoro, I’ve decided this is a perfect solution for my type of work: I could work on something for 25 minutes, then have a break and continue working on anything else. However, after working using Pomodoro for about a week, I’ve realized that the problem of refocusing didn’t disappear.
I have come to the conclusion that Pomodoro is not enough if you do not have a plan of work. The problem I faced was the abundance of tasks and the inability to see all of them as a part of the bigger picture. That’s why I’ve decided to create a simple Google Sheet with two columns for two types of to-do lists.
One list was ‘Today‘ and the other ‘This Week‘. This way, I’ve divided all of my tasks based on this classification. I would review the list every morning and make an approximate plan of the day.
Now, this is when Pomodoro comes into play. When you have a clear vision of what you have to do during the day, it’s easier to focus on one task at a time. And Pomodoro is perfect for this.
Sometimes, when I have a big or daunting task, I’d say to myself: “You have to work on it 25 minutes only, then you’ll have a break”. So I start working on the daunting task, and, you know, when you actually start something, it’s easier to continue.
In my opinion, the first benefit of Pomodoro is that it’s easier to start working on something when you have to work for 25 minutes only.
Second, as you use Pomodoro, you become better at time estimation for your work (and usually people just fail at it).
Third, you train your brain that there are periods of focusing and there are breaks for social media or whatever you want and your productivity increases.
As of cons of Pomodoro, it won’t work well if you don’t have a clear view of the scope of work you need to finish.
Second, it is useless unless you personally decide to accept the sacred nature of those 25 minutes of focusing and spend them on your work only.
Senior Digital Marketing Strategist & Campaign Manager, Antenna
I’m an advocate for using the Pomodoro technique and absolutely believe it works to increase productivity and reduce procrastination. I initially used an app to help me keep track of my Pomodoro and eventually got to the Grand Master level (which if I recall correctly is thousands of those individual 25-minute increments) but now just use a traditional countdown timer and track everything manually.
I believe it works because it helps me keep focused throughout the day on the particular tasks that need to get done (I’m also big into planning) and I believe keeps me fresher (and ultimately more creative) thanks to the built-in breaks.
I regularly recommend people struggling with their own productivity consider using the approach.
My advice is to try a few sets each day and measure the effect, build over time, and don’t forget those breaks!
Senior Project Manager, Catcher’s Home
I believe the Pomodoro technique is effective, but only if you are disciplined to follow it.
A technique by itself, without discipline, isn’t a “silver bullet” that will solve your problems. You must be committed to adhering to its principle and avoiding anything that will get you off of the workflow train.
Something that helps me with this is a Chrome extension that I use called “Strict Workflow”. It has a Pomodoro timer in it – setting 25-minute work sprints and 5-minute breaks – and the extension automatically blocks common time-wasting sites, helping me focus on the task at hand.
Thus, the main Pro for me about this technique is that it is an effective way for me to get work done. Completing work in “chunks” or “sprints” is a good way for me to accomplish tasks, especially since I have a short attention span.
The main Con is that I have a job where distractions are fairly common, so it can sometimes be hard for me to get through a full 25-minute sprint, for example, without getting phone calls or knocks on my office door.
Chief Resume Strategist, Thrive! Resumes
I tried the Pomodoro technique for a month and found it was too rigid for me.
The biggest problem was that as a resume writer, I’d be in the midst of a great writing streak when the timer went off, signaling I had to take a break. My natural work block seems to be closer to 45 or 55 minutes, rather than 25.
But it did free me from the concept that I couldn’t take a break until the entire project was completed. Ultimately Pomodoro was helpful because it taught me that it’s okay to take frequent, short breaks to mentally refresh.
Writing is grueling, intensive mental effort and taking a break every time you need it ultimately results in a higher quality product.
Career Counselor | Resume Writer, Resume Genius
While I found the Pomodoro technique useful for me as an individual, I quickly discovered that it’s also effective when implemented at the team-wide level.
This is because everyone’s 25 minutes of work become synchronized. No one is interrupted by colleagues taking a short break, and teammates can catch up together during their 5-minute break window. You can keep track of your team Pomodoro at teamodoro.com.
Implementing Pomodoro has also helped my teammates deliver on their OKRs. Many of my colleagues told me that they used to be easily distracted (who isn’t with cellphones these days?) However, they can now focus single-mindedly on their work for 25 minutes at a time.
One of my colleagues who previously struggled to remain productive over any length of time says he’s now comfortable putting in 25-minute spurts since he looks forward to enjoying the subsequent 5-minute break that’s instrumental in the success of the Pomodoro technique.
Overall, implementing the Pomodoro technique has boosted employee productivity and work satisfaction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use the Pomodoro technique with a team?
Yes, the Pomodoro technique can be used with a team. By setting a group timer for your Pomodoros and taking breaks together, you can create a sense of camaraderie and accountability.
However, it’s important to communicate with your team and make sure everyone is on board with the Pomodoro technique and how it’ll be implemented. Some team members may prefer longer or shorter work intervals, so it’s essential to be flexible and find a system that works for everyone.
Also, consider using a Pomodoro app or timer to track progress and share with your team.
Do I need any special tools or equipment to use the Pomodoro technique?
No, you don’t need any special tools or equipment to apply the Pomodoro technique. All you really need is a timer (which can be a physical or digital timer) and a task list.
However, some find that certain tools or apps—like productivity apps or noise-canceling headphones—help them stay focused and engaged while using the technique. You’ll have to decide what works best for your individual needs and preferences.
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