Let’s try to understand the time management method named after a tomato.
For someone that loves productivity hacks, it was bound to happen: I finally tried the famous Pomodoro technique. It’s a concept that kept appearing in productivity articles and books every once in a while, all of them talking about how life-changing it is and how you can improve your time management skills. So after a while, I gave in to the pressure and decided to learn more about it and try it out.
But what exactly is the Pomodoro technique?
The Pomodoro technique is a revolutionary time management system developed by the entrepreneur and author Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique by itself is quite simple: using a timer to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes, separated by short breaks (usually 5 minutes).
Cirillo named the system Pomodoro because he used a tomato-shaped timer to manage his time and track his work while in university. And today, it’s one of the more popular time management methods available, with multiple apps and websites that offer Pomodoro timers.
5 steps to get started:
Decide on a task you’d like to get done
Set the Pomodoro (timer/interval) to 25 minutes
Work on the task until the time runs out, with full focus and avoiding all distractions
After the 25 minutes have passed, take a short break (5 minutes) for energy renewal; then start a new Pomodoro
Every 4 Pomodoros take a more extended break of 20–30 minutes
Benefits of the technique
The Pomodoro technique aims to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions and distractions, making you focus entirely on just a single task without shifting focus. This method makes you more focused on getting things done in short time bursts, while at the same time take frequent breaks to relax and recharge your brain. Mostly, you’ll be able to get more done at a faster pace, with less mental fatigue at the end of the day.
The Pomodoro technique teaches you how to work with time, instead of against it. Once the Pomodoro timer starts, you have 25 minutes to work on a task, ignoring all distractions. Over time, you’ll learn to understand better how long your tasks might take and how you can organize them in your intervals.
My personal experience
And I would say that overall it was a nice experiment. Overall I think this is an exciting way of working. It forces you to focus on what you are doing for a short and intense amount of time. It gives you a sense of urgency. If you work well under pressure and with time constrictions, having that timer buzzing every 25 minutes can be motivating. I tend to work well with time constraints and pressure; that’s why I thought the Pomodoro technique could work for me.
I did manage to finish my tasks at a faster pace. It did give me the motivation to focus and take more breaks. The breaks served as a reminder to breathe and relax, get up, and take a short walk, maybe to fill my water bottle or grab a snack. And the truth was that I wasn’t mentally exhausted at the end of the day.
However, I found that time was passing too fast. And to be honest, there were multiple times during this experiment that I lost track of the timer. It was also hard to keep track of the intervals, especially during the times I wasn’t on my desk. For a meeting or call, you don’t exactly get to take 5.
I use time blocking, and my intervals are usually around 1 hour with breaks in between. Stopping every 25 minutes broke my focus and workflow. At times it felt like an unnatural work pacing, a little bit forced and almost unnecessary.
So, was it for me? Not really. However, I would never discourage someone from trying this time management technique or any other. I still wanted to share my experience, and I believe it’s going to work for someone out there. It’s a matter of personal preference.