Get your time on track with the Pomodoro Technique

First published: 31-05-2016

Pomodoro technique

Struggling to keep focus or power your way through busy days at the office? Try the Pomodoro Technique: a time management system aimed at allowing you to tick things off your to-do list in short bursts, taking thoroughly-earned breaks in-between.

We'll show you exactly how this process works and how it can help you to monster your many tasks. You may even find that the Pomodoro Technique improves both your attention span and concentration levels; there's more to it than simply speeding your way through to an empty email inbox.

Pomodoro: a potted history

Francesco Cirillo, the inventor of the technique, developed it back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coining the name from a tomato-shaped timer he would use to track his own work.

Since its inception, Cirillo has gone on to be heralded as an entrepreneur and author, and the now-famous tomato timer has become synonymous with the technique.

What's required?

One of the main advantages of the Pomodoro Technique is that all you need is a timer - no apps, no expensive gadgets - and, also, preferably at least one task to accomplish.

If you can't get your hands on a classic tomato timer, then don't despair. Any wristwatch with a chronograph feature can do the job just as well.

The Elementum Terra watch from Suunto doesn't just come with a chronograph feature, it also has a bold LCD dial, making it very easy to track your time at a glance, as opposed to a more complex classic analogue watch face.

Suunto Men's Elementum Terra Alarm Chronograph Watch

Its appeal is more than functional, however, with a design that is thoroughly modern. The black watch face, matte silver casing, and light brown strap combine together to make a timepiece that's fully capable of making an impression.

Similarly, this I- Grammy Special Edition watch from Gucci has a bold digital face, perfectly bridging the gap between being stylish yet perfect for timekeeping. With different displays devoted to its separate functions, it's easy to keep track of several things at once.

 Gucci Unisex  I- Grammy Special Edition Alarm Chronograph Watch

While still relying on black to form the basis of the colour scheme, a shimmering gold is added here to provide the contrast, and it does so perfectly. In fact, they're the only two colours used to form the piece - sometimes less really is more.

How does the Pomodoro Technique work?

First, you need to choose a task you'd like to accomplish. It can be anything from studying, replying to a bunch of unread emails, or writing a blog post.

Set your timer for 25 minutes, then work on the task until the time is up. It's a good idea to choose a watch with an alarm function, so you're not tempted to keep one eye on the time while you're focusing on the task at hand.

When the timer rings, put a checkmark on your work, then (and here's the best bit) take a five-minute break. Once you have gone through four pomodoros (or pomodori if you want to go authentically Italian), amounting to 100 minutes in total, you can reward yourself with a longer break! This period can be anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes; it's up to you.

Dealing with distractions

One of the main benefits of this technique is that it helps to prevent your mind from wandering to other things.

If the distraction is something as simple as a lightbulb moment or brainwave, make a quick note of it so you can return to it later.

However, for any other distraction that doesn't require your immediate attention, Cirillo recommends this strategy:
  1. Inform whoever requires your attention (co-worker, friend, etc.) that you're currently busy.
  2. Agree on a time where you can deal with their query.
  3. Schedule the postponed meeting
  4. Once your pomodoro has finished, you're free to return to the distracting issue.
No matter what you're struggling to focus on, the Pomodoro Technique can rescue you from the depths of procrastination and distractions. You never know - this process might just revitalise the way you work, and may even become a staple part of your day.


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