The Pomodoro Technique + Me = Productivity

Sep 1, 2011Work Uncaged, Write!


I’m not exactly sure who told me about the Pomodoro Technique. Actually I think I heard about it from several sources. Which goes to show that marketing adage is true. It takes a few consumer touches before we decide to buy into something. I knew I’d reached a place in my writing output where I was putzing, lollygagging, and surfing the Internet too much. I have a book due the first of November, so I needed to harness my concentration and output.

Here’s a little about the background of the Pomodoro Technique from the website: “The Pomodoro Technique® is a way to get the most out of time management. Turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it. Francesco Cirillo created the Pomodoro Technique® in the 1980s. It is now practiced by professional teams and individuals around the world.”

The cool thing? You can download the book for FREE! Yes!!! The read is easy, and following the steps is pretty intuitive. I especially recommend downloading the Cheat Sheet as that helps you remember what to do.

So, you may ask, what is The Pomodoro Technique?

In a nutshell, you:

  1. Buy a timer. (They recommend a tomato kitchen timer, hence the name Pomodoro which is Italian for tomato). I bought an ugly white timer for two bucks at Wally World. You can see it on the left of the desk in the picture above.
  2. Write down the stuff you want to accomplish in a day. Decide how much of that you can do in twenty-five minutes. (This part is fun to me, kind of like work gambling!)
  3. Set the timer for 25 ticking minutes.
  4. During that time, only concentrate on that task. If you get distracted, write down your random ideas on a separate piece of paper, but keep to the task.
  5. At the buzzer, GET UP. Walk around. Do something else for five minutes. (This has been a godsend for me. It actually doesn’t stop the flow for me, and it forces me to move which, in turn, blesses my stiff arm and hand.)
  6. After a five minute break, set the timer again for another task (or to finish the last task).
  7. After four pomodoro (25 minutes of work time x 4), you take a 30 minute break.
  8. Lather, rinse, repeat.

What I adore about Pomodoro:

  1. As I mentioned, I’m getting up from my desk twice per hour so that I don’t become stiff and sore.
  2. My concentration is greater and I get a lot more done. I can usually write between 400-1000 words in one pomodoro.
  3. Even though I’m interrupted, I find that during my break, my brain keeps working and intuitively thinks of the next thing to write.
  4. I can fold laundry or make dinner in the breaks.
  5. Because I turn off my emails and notifications during my work time, I don’t get distracted. This forces me to check them at strategic times.
  6. Call me a weirdo, but I like the tick-tick-ticking of the timer. I’m surprised to look up at it, usually to find I only have five minutes left.

When I don’t use the method:

  1. When I’m wrapping up my day or beginning my day, checking emails, doing marketing, doing interviews, etc.

Overall, this is a great program, entirely helpful! I recommend it to anyone wanting to increase their output, or folks who should take breaks because of desk related injuries. I love how generous the Pomodoro folks are–it makes me want to be their evangelist!


What about you? Have you used the Pomodoro Technique? What do you like? Dislike? Any other productivity methods you use? Care to share?