*As I update this article in March 2020, hundreds of thousands of people are working remotely for the first time. It’s not as easy as it seems. The ASE team works wherever we are, and never in a traditional office. The Pomodoro Technique has been a successful time management tool for us. I’m using it now! Susie
As I write this article I am in a Pomodoro. A Pomodoro is a 25 minute timed work segment during which I do not allow any distractions to interrupt me. It has been tremendously helpful to me when I face a deadline for writing an article, for example.
Francesco Cirillo, an author, developer and entrepreneur, invented the Pomodoro Technique in the early 1990s. He used a tomato-shaped timer hence the name Pomodoro. The basic approach is that it’s easier to tackle large tasks, or many small tasks if they are broken down into bite-sized pieces (Pomodoros) that are spaced with short breaks in between.
How it works:
Choose the task(s) to be completed
- Set your timer for 25 minutes (one Pomodoro)
- Begin work and continue until timer rings, then put a check on a piece of paper
- Take a short break (5 minutes or so)
- Try to complete 4 Pomodoros, then take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
A Pomodoro is one work segment and is indivisible. Phones must go unanswered, work colleagues or family postponed until the end of the Pomodoro. If you are unable to keep a distraction at bay you will have to end your Pomodoro and start again.
Working this way is beneficial because it:
- Trains your brain to focus for short amounts of time
- Improves your attention span and concentration
- Combats procrastination
- Imposes regular breaks that are important for creativity
- Discourages multi-tasking. Often, none of the multi-tasked tasks end well
- Forces you to pace yourself while you are making progress in your workload and decreasing deadline anxiety
The Pomodoro Technique is useful for people who have production-type jobs. A Sharp Eye articles are a good example. My daughter researches, draws and produces science videos and finds this technique very helpful. It is also useful for people who have flexible work schedules because it offers structure.
It is a simple technique but if you’d like a Pomodoro primer, go to The Pomodoro Technique: Get Started. You can also purchase Francesco Cirillo’s book here – The Pomodoro Technique Book. This site has lots of online tools and classes to hone in on your skills.
Here is a very good 5-minute video explanation from Ignite.
There are Pomodoro apps that have developed around the technique:
The Marina Timer app is a ‘custom productivity timer’ that gives users three options. There is the standard 25 minute Pomodoro, a Custom Timer that allows for flexibility to meet specific needs for time lengths, and the Kitchen Timer that is a regular timer users set for any time period.
Pomodoro Timer Lite is a free Android app with a timer. It would replace an actual timer and has customizable breaks lengths.
There are a few Pomodoro timers on the market? This Pomodoro 25, 5 Minute Adjustable Productivity Timer is $15.99.
This is a great time management tool and skill for all ages. Provide children with focused amounts of time for the project at hand, with a break built into the system. Older students will benefit from it as well, especially with a “no social media” zone while working.