The Pomodoro Technique

Improve the time management on an activity with this technique based on using a timer to divide time into intervals (pomodoros) of 25 minutes of activity, followed by 5 minutes of breaks.

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Image byMarcho Verch

After almost a year teleworking at home, due to the circumstances that we all know, the changes we have had to make to adapt to this new environment have been considerable and in some cases difficult to assume. One of them has been concentrating on working at home, especially for people who didn’t do it before. Not going to the office where our mind disconnects from our daily routine and focuses (some more than others) on working, making that “click” is sometimes expensive and we have to make an effort to achieve it.

One of the techniques that I have adopted during this time has helped me a lot in terms of concentration and consequently to improve time management in the tasks I perform. This technique is called the Pomodoro Technique and it was created by Franceso Cirillo in the late 1980s. It consists of using a timer to break down an activity into multiple intervals, usually of 25 minutes long. Between each interval there is usually a 5 minute break. Each interval of activity is known as a pomodoro, tomato in Italian, since Cirillo used a kitchen timer with that shape when he was a student.

The basic steps of the technique are:

  1. Decide the task to be done.
  2. Set the timer for the pomodoros (usually 25').
  3. Work on the task.
  4. Stop working when the timer rings and add a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have less than 4 checkmarks, rest 3-5' and go back to step 2; otherwise go to step 6.
  6. After 4 pomodoros, take a long break for 15-30'. Reset the checkmark counter and go back to step 1.

With this technique what is achieved is to reduce interruptions and be focused on a “pomodoro of time” on the task to be carried out. If a pomodoro is interrupted, the task is canceled and the next task (the one that was interrupted) has to be recorded or the pomodoro is abandoned.

Once the task is completed within a pomodoro, the remaining time to finish it can be spent reviewing and editing the work done, reviewing what has been learned and how it can be improved, or reviewing the following tasks for the next planned pomodoro.

Obviously the duration of the pomodoros and breaks is totally subjective, the theory suggests that amount of minutes for each one and that number of pomodoros based on the research and work carried out by the author, but each one can adapt it to what that suits you best, as well as the breaks for interrupts.

One thing that is important, as you may have assumed, in these types of techniques is planning. If the work to be done is not planned in advance, having a to-do list of tasks and a prioritization of it, it is very difficult to apply pomodoro to something that you do not know what it will be, therefore the recommended order would be:

  1. Have a to-do list.
  2. Prioritize tasks.
  3. Start working with the first task using the Pomodoro Technique.

As you can see, it is a very simple technique to understand and apply and the results obtained are surprising. Sometimes your mind is not clear enough or you are not in the mood for using it, so if it is your case, it is better to abandon it and apply it another time (whether it is your first time or not). I don’t apply it every day because many days I’m just not in the mood, but the days that I really need to focus on my tasks, it is very helpful. In addition, there are countless applications for the computer or for the phone that help to time the pomodoros, show alerts and some even turn off the screen so that you cannot continue working, so research the best for your needs.

I hope it helps you and feel free to comment here or contact me on my social media for any comments, questions or suggestions.


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