Dramatically Increase Your Focus and Productivity With A Tomato Timer

The Pomodoro Technique

I am constantly asked by friends and those I work with for productivity tips and tricks. The Pomodoro Technique is one of my favorite and most successful tips. Why? Because it is all about FOCUS.

I use the Pomodoro Technique on a daily basis to write blog posts, complete work projects, limit my time on email, and move my PhD work forward.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the early 90s. In essence, when you are faced with large tasks the Pomodoro Technique says to break down the work into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks. This can train the brain to focus for short periods and can help you stay on top of deadlines.

Note: Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and Cirillo used a tomato timer, hence the Pomodoro Technique.

Lifehacker.org described the Pomodoro Technique this way:

“The Pomodoro Technique can help you power through distractions, [with] hyper-focus, and get things done in short bursts, while taking frequent breaks to come up for air and relax. Best of all, it’s easy. If you have a busy job where you’re expected to produce, it’s a great way to get through your tasks.”

The Pomodoro Technique was even voted the #1 productivity method by the readers of lifehacker.org.

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique

  • It cuts down on interruptions and distractions. The time you are using the Pomodoro Technique needs to be distractions free. No Facebook, Twitter, email or other forms of social media that would cause an interruption. Turn off your phone. You can also let your coworkers know that you don’t want to be disturbed.
  • It will give you a realistic idea of the time and effort it takes to complete a task. As you use the Pomodoro Technique you will continue to have a better understanding of how long your tasks take to complete and the effort involved.
  • It motivates most people to complete the task within the time allotted.  It is helpful to understand Parkinson’s Law, which states: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. So don’t work on tasks all day long. Give tasks a time limit. It will motivate you to get that particular task complete quicker and in the time you are allotting.

How to use the Pomodoro Technique

You will need some sort of timer. Either a physical timer like the one pictured in this blog post, a computer app, or just your phone. A lot of people like to use a timer that makes a ticking sound to keep them motivated because it is a reminder that they are on the clock. When at work, I personally use a computer app called FocusBooster and it’s free.

The technique is pretty simple:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper (or use another way to track how many Pomodoros you completed in a day)
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is fine)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (10-15 minutes)

REMEMBER: the purpose is to train your brain to become hyper-focused during these 25 minutes so you can complete task efficiently and effectively.

Additional Resources

Question: Do you think the Pomodora Technique can help you to become more focused and productive? Why or why not? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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