In this article we will talk about one of the most effective techniques to use to increase your productivity: yes, the Pomodoro Technique!
If you are looking for more information about this method and the famous tomato timer, you’ve probably already heard of it. In the same way, you will probably have problems concentrating on your studies or work and you will also be interested in improving your efficiency in this regard.
Well, from the beginning I can assure you that the Pomodoro technique is the right one for you!
Below I’ll describe what it consists of, which are the best apps available on the market that refer to the Pomodoro technique and I’ll give you some useful tips to use it to the full.
Using the Pomodoro method will give you a number of positive benefits. If you are a student and want to improve your study method or simply want to organize your day more efficiently, I strongly suggest you try this technique yourself.
The Pomodoro Technique: Its origins
The invention of the Pomodoro technique was due in the second half of the 1980s to Francesco Cirillo, a software developer and digital entrepreneur of Italian origin.
In those days Francesco was a university student like many others. Apart from a promising start, he found himself having difficulty concentrating on his studies. Even if he applied himself hard, he realized that he didn’t have that impact and above all that productivity he wanted.
Tired now of its low performance, he decided, almost as a challenge, to take a tomato-shaped timer , one of those used in the kitchen to calculate cooking times (like the one you see in the figure), and try to concentrate on the study for a fixed time , in this case 10 minutes.
Although he did not initially succeed, he understood that he was on the right track: to study effectively, he had to devote himself totally to an activity, in that case, the study, going to eliminate any form of distraction!
Over the years the dear Francesco has perfected and diffused his method of study and today the technique of the Pomodoro is known all over the world! You will find it translated into English as the ” Pomodoro technique ” and this can be funny at first glance, but it is simply due to the fact that the creator is really Italian.
You can also ask yourself why it is not translated into the ” Tomato technique “. This is because over the years the term tomato has spread as specific jargon of this technique. It indicates a precise period of time, in which your task is to concentrate and give your best!
So dear reader, you must be wondering how much a tomato is worth and what this technique consists of… keep reading, I’ll tell you below!
How the Pomodoro Technique works
To apply the Pomodoro Technique (or tomato method) you just need a timer and some good will. You will find the purists of this method using the classic mechanical timer, but your mobile phone or any other digital device will be fine.
The only problem with using your mobile phone as a timer is that this can be a source of distraction for you: you know, when we have a cell phone nearby we tend to pick things up by hand!
That said, the Pomodoro Technique consists of 5 simple steps:
That said, the tomato technique consists of 5 simple steps:
- Choose the activity to do (below I will give you further suggestions in this regard);
- Set the timer to 25 minutes ;
- Focus on your activity for this amount of time, avoiding any kind of distraction. Also, make sure not to check the timer;
- Once the 25 minutes have elapsed, stop whatever you are doing and allow yourself a 5-minute break. This is the time, for example, to stretch, go to the bathroom or fill the glass with water;
- After 4 cycles (yes, they say even after 4 tomatoes!) Take a longer break of about 15-30 minutes.
The technique itself is disarmingly simple. However, to be able to apply it correctly, you need to use some precautions and avoid mistakes that are very commonly made. I’m talking about it in the next paragraph!
How to apply the Pomodoro Technique: 6 tips
So let’s see how to apply the Pomodoro Technique in a really effective and personalized way according to your nature and your needs!
1. Set your goals
The first piece of advice I can give you about the tomato technique is to carefully choose the activities to do.
It makes no sense to talk about improving productivity if you are working most of the time on things that don’t get you closer to your goals.
Basically you should first set your goals and make a list of the activities needed to reach them. This, I repeat, is the basis of everything, otherwise, you can also work all day, but it will seem like you have not finished anything once you arrive in the evening.
Once you have set your goals and your mission, you will have to work day after day so you can accomplish them. And this translates into reaching a goal that guarantees happiness and fulfillment.
2. Plan the activities
Planning activities means deciding in advance what to do on a particular day. Now, in some cases, you will find some who claim that planning should be done the day before.
I think the best thing is to plan weekly. Only by having a vision that includes more than a day can you check if you are doing everything necessary to achieve your goals. You will also have the opportunity to anticipate or postpone things to be done and in general, you will have greater flexibility.
Returning to our beloved Pomodoro Technique, a common problem is that we tend to make the mistake of collecting tomatoes in general. One hears say for example: “Today I have already made ten tomatoes, I have worked hard”.
I advise you to stay focused on the purpose and the activity that allows you to achieve it: the tomato is only a means.
The most important thing is to link your activities to tomatoes. In other words, you will have to go and evaluate how many tomatoes are needed to complete each activity.
You can get this data based on the time you spent in the past to do that same activity. If it is the first time you do it, try to estimate the time required. Over time you will become better at it.
3. Avoid distractions
It is important that during the 25 minute period you remain intensely focused on what you are doing. This is a necessary condition to effectively increase your productivity.
For this purpose, it is essential to try to eliminate any kind of distraction. In particular, there are two possible types of distractions:
- internal distractions: they are caused by your thoughts, which can be of various kinds and not all should be avoided immediately;
- external distractions: whatever catches your attention, one of the main ones as already mentioned is the mobile phone, but this category also includes people who ask you for advice or help.
As for, for example, the requests of colleagues, I suggest you to use the technique that is known in English as inform – negotiate – schedule – call back. Let’s see it briefly:
- inform: informs the colleague (who is distracting you) that you are currently engaged;
- negotiate: negotiate a time (when the 25 mins are over) in which you will deal with the matter;
- schedule: put this new commitment on the agenda immediately;
- call back: call the colleague when the tomato is finished and you are ready to solve the problem.
4. Strictly follow the established schedules
A fourth very important advice on the Pomodoro technique is to strictly respect what was planned.
Adherence to programs is fundamental to maintaining your efficiency. During the planning phase, in fact, the optimal sequence of the activities to do must be identified, going to consider a series of factors, among which there is, for example, your energy level.
What is the energy level? It is simply a parameter that indicates which hours of the day you are most productive. Some people do more in the morning after a good rest, while others are lovers of night work.
Strictly respecting the times translates into the fact that, if you have planned periods of 25 minutes during which to work, it is wrong whether these periods are shorter or whether they are too long. It makes no sense to apply the rule of ” two more minutes ” or “… both two minutes less don’t change lives “.
Summarizing this paragraph, stay true to what was planned.
5. Use it together with other techniques
The tomato technique can be effectively integrated with other techniques.
Let’s look at three examples:
- GTD ( Getting Things Done ): this is a productivity technique devised by Davin Allen, aimed at the optimal management of your commitments. You can use it to organize and prioritize activities to do. For further information I suggest you consult this article ;
- Eisenhower matrix: this is another very suitable tool for classifying activities into four categories with different priorities.
- Kaizen: technique originating in the Japanese world, is the basis of all the theories of continuous improvement. It is applied in a widespread way to optimize productivity in the company, for example.
Although the Pomodoro technique works effectively in combination with other techniques there is the risk of making the process too complicated, going to include too many parameters, which are difficult to control.
Remember that the strength of the Pomodoro technique is its simplicity.
6. Adapt them according to your way of doing
Despite being designed to have 25-minute work periods with 5-minute breaks, nothing prevents you from adapting the Pomodoro technique to your way of being, making it your own.
For me, for example, the use of 50-minute intervals with a 10-minute break works very well. Obviously this requires a bit of training: you can’t think of being able to hold the attention for such a long time right away.
Among other things, the 50-10 system is also used in many schools, where lesson hours are shortened by 10 minutes. This derives from studies on attention, which state that people are able to stay concentrated for no more than 45-50 min.
Pomodoro Technique: Benefits of Use
Using the Pomodoro technique leads to a series of benefits, see which ones:
- Increased productivity: by remaining concentrated for a well-defined period of time and eliminating the distractions that occur from time to time, productivity can be really increased through the use of this technique;
- Better quality of the work carried out: practicing monotasking in a certain sense, that is, dedicating oneself exclusively to a single activity at a time, you will be able to guarantee a better quality of the result, going to reduce also the mistakes made;
- Optimization of time management: through careful planning and time division of activities, you will be able to manage your time much more efficiently;
- Greater concentration and motivation: by avoiding any kind of distraction you will be able to have an excellent level of concentration, and the results you will get will push you to do more and more;
- Ability to stay fresh during the day: doing one thing at a time drastically reduces stress and keeps you efficient for a much longer period.
Who should use the Pomodoro Technique?
The tomato technique works perfectly with people who play the role of developers, designers and in general with anyone who has a job organized in creative modules.
In other words, it is particularly effective for those who have to produce work that is then reviewed by others. They range from the authors of books to software programmers (not surprisingly, the creator of this technique takes care of this).
That said, people who do not have a job strictly divided into modules can also use them. Anyone with a to-do list can use the technique with the results I just described.
To paraphrase this concept, even a mason who builds houses with his own hands can use it very effectively. Taking frequent breaks will allow him to check the work he is doing, limiting the possibility of errors.
Therefore the Pomodoro technique is suitable for very different jobs.
Pomodoro Technique: Online and Mobile Apps
I told you at the beginning of the article or so that the Pomodoro technique only needs a timer and your goodwill. That said, with the advent of technology, a whole series of apps spread around this method. Let’s see some of them:
- Marinara Timer (Web): it is an app that you can access directly from your browser and keep open. You can use the classic timer of the tomato technique, or reconfigure the intervals according to your preferences;
- Tomighty (Win / Mac / Linux): available for both Windows and Mac, it is a real desktop timer, even in this case adaptable as regards the duration of the intervals;
- Focus booster (Web): free app in the basic version. In addition to the classic timer, there are also additional tools to monitor your progress in everything you do;
- Pomodoro Keeper (OS): application dedicated to the apple world that you can easily use even from a mobile phone. You will always have a timer in your pocket;
- Focus reborn timer (Android): dedicated application this time to the android world. In addition to the classic timer, it also contains a series of statistics and performance analyzes of your work sessions.