a tomato shaped egg timer set to 25 minutes

Continuous Improvement blogThe Pomodoro Technique

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a method to help you concentrate on a particular task for a set amount of time, usually for 25 minutes.  

A tomato shaped egg timer set to 25 minutesIt is called Pomodoro after a tomato shaped kitchen timer, which was used by Francesco Cirillo who came up with the idea of using short bursts of time to maximise concentration. I use this technique when I need to get something done without distraction. The timer gives me a sense of urgency and I am always amazed how much you can get done when you fully concentrate on a single task for a set period without interruption.

How do you use the Pomodoro Technique?

Here are the steps that I use when applying the technique as part of my day:

  1. Think ahead of time, which actions are worth adding this extra focus?
  2. Break down bigger tasks into 25 min intervals (e.g., a 2-hour task may require 4 x 25min Pomodoro sessions)
  3. Clear desk and remove any potential distractions (e.g., mobile phone)
  4. Set timer for 25 mins. 
  5. Focus on the task and nothing else until the timer goes off 
  6. Take a 5 min stretch away from desk
  7. Rinse and repeat depending on how many Pomodoro session are planned for that day

What are the benefits I get from using the Pomorodo Technique?

When I use the Pomodoro technique it says to my brain that this task is important and needs to get done. The routine of clearing distractions and setting the time also re-enforces the idea that this is different, and I need to get on with it. I particularly find it helpful when I plan something that I need to do but do not necessarily want to do it. It only requires a small commitment, and it is easy to implement. The tasks I do using the Pomodoro approach tend to get done, and I find it particularly helpful when I have broken a big task into several Pomodoro sessions. It is a great way to combat procrastination and is very motivating once you have completed the task at the end of the Pomodoro. It makes completing actions more of a fun game. 

The Pomodoro technique is a very practical tool that you can use to become more productive and can be used every day. You do not need to make each Pomodoro session 25 minutes, but I find that works well for me. I hope you find it helps you to become more effective.

Try it yourself

For the next week I would like you to try out the Pomodoro technique for yourself:

  1. Get access to a timer (see resources)
  2. Decide which actions you are going to complete whilst using the technique
  3. Schedule your Pomodoro sessions
  4. Carry out the Pomodoro sessions throughout the week
  5. Review your Pomodoro efforts for the week:
  • What went well?
  • What helped?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What hindered?
  • What will you do differently next week?

Keep this habit going.

Some final thoughts

The Pomodoro technique is very simple but very effective. It can help you get more done and can give you a short burst of focus that can help complete tasks that you might otherwise put off.

Useful web resources

           This is a very simple desktop timer that I use