I tried the Pomodoro Technique for 7 days. Here’s what you can learn from it

Pomodoro Technique

By Emil Villumsen

Co-founder of Craft

Inspiration

It’s not for everyone, but you should give it a try. Work focused in 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Rinse repeat.

I was sceptical at first — it reminds me of diets and the endless tips to make you more productive swarming on Youtube.

But I’m pretty sure I’m gonna stick with this technique actually. It feels great dividing your tasks into small sprints; small “successes” if you like.

Let me introduce you to it.

What Pomodoro is

If you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple. For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically. You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15–20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

By Tucker Cummings for LifeHacker.org in this great introduction to the Pomodoro Technique, which is widely used by entrepreneurs, artists and designers.

What you can gain from it

  • Work sprints based on your attention span
  • Distraction free work setting
  • More work done
  • A sense of finishing tasks
  • A framework for remembering to drink water, stretch, do push-ups etc.
  • A totally work-free evening if you worked hard enough with the Pomodoro Technique during the day

Try it out

Here’s a videos to get you started. Perhaps the technique is not for you. But it’s so cheap — all you need a timer — that you won’t lose anything trying it. Potentially you’ll get a much more productive work life.

My tips, based on using it for a week

  • Use a timer, don’t just look at the clock. You’ll want to stick to exactly 25 minutes. And the ringing is a clear indication that time is up. You can use your phone or apps made for this purpose, like Tide.
  • Get everything you need for the task ready before starting. Like a cook having all the ingredients ready, you should be prepared for the session.
  • Before you start, decide what notifications you need to attend and which you should ignore. Should you keep Slack on snooze? Or just ignore all notifications? If you’re like me, you got notifications popping up on your phone and desktop quite often. Trying pomodoro, I decided not to block notifications, as sometimes things are urgent. Like customers asking for help or colleagues needing something. Our work ethics is to respond to customers first, then employees and then continue your work. This doesn’t really work with the ‘distraction free’ work setting. Decide how you want to run it, so you don’t get confused during the 25min sprints.
  • Write distractions down on a paper. Your girlfriend calls you, someone commented on your Facebook post, an email pops in. There are plenty of distractions and things you need to see to. Don’t pursue them now, instead write them down on a paper.
  • Be sure what music to play, so you don’t go back and forth. New music I feel like adding to my playlists, which is a distraction. Grab a playlist where you know you like all the songs.
  • 25 minutes seems like a good span. Some appropriate the technique to 50 or 60 minutes. I feel 25 minutes is just right, and feels like you’re accomplishing a lot of small successes during a day.
  • Get physical in your 5 minute breaks. Don’t reply to emails or anything screen based. Look into the distance to calm your eyes, stretch, do push-ups or just get up and stand.
  • Remember it’s a technique for you. You’re not required to honor the technique. So relax and don’t get stressed by going a bit over or under time. The mental stress of following the framework shouldn’t outbalance the mental gains.
  • You can’t always “choose a single task” for the 25 minute span. My work life is fragmented. I think that’s okay, but when it makes sense, do it.
  • Schedule meetings to be 25 minute long as well. You’ll thank yourself for this.
  • Issue: What to do in those 5 minute breaks when noone’s around? I found myself walking in circles. Cleaned the house, played guitar, drank water, worked out. It took some time to make use of those 5 minutes though.
  • Avoid looking at the timer. Hehe, this one is actually quite important. You’ll have a hard time not wanting to look at that timer. But do try to forget it.
  • Pee when you have to, not in breaks. It sucks waiting for the timer to run out only to sprint to the bathroom. You’re not productive if you can’t relax.
  • Time it with your colleagues. It’s nice to hear the timers go off at the same time and having someone to talk to during the 5 minute break.

My sprint is finished

Now it’s your turn.