Pomodoro Technique Quick-Start Guide

This entry was originally posted on 43Things.

How I did it:

It would not be too dramatic to say that this has completely changed the way I work, and the way I think about working.

The idea behind the Pomodoro Technique is you use a kitchen timer to track short amounts of time (20-25 minutes), and during that time you work intensely on only one task, and nothing else. Limit interruptions, task switching, everything. At the end you take a short break, then start a new 25-minute period; after three pomos you take a longer break (3 pomos + 1 long break = one cycle). All tasks can be broken into pomodoros– think of them as a single unit of time.

It’s named as such because the inventor used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer when he came up with the format 🙂

I have ADD, but routine and discipline have been sufficient for me so far. This is hands-down the best tool I’ve learned to use, in… 15 years? It also makes a nice external “boss” to keep me on track since I’m self-employed.

Noun: “I think it will take me three pomodoros to do the whole layout.”
Verb: “I’m going to pomodoro this thing or I’ll never finish up in time for happy hour.”

Lessons & tips:

  • Find the best toolset for your style. I love paper, but it’s nice to have something doing the menial tracking for you. I use a combination of Pomodroido (smartphone app) and Dave Seah’s Emergent Task Planner pads.
  • Every pomo is a fresh start. If you got interrupted in the last one and had to void it, it’s ok. Mark it and start fresh with the next one.
  • Don’t skip your breaks. Even the long ones. Getting up for a stretch, a snack, or just surfing the web for a few minutes helps your brain shift gears and catch up with the world, before you hunker down and start focusing again.

Some resources:

The Pomodoro Technique
Pomodroido (for Android)
Pomodoro (Mac App Store)
Concentrate! Timer (for iOS)
Emergent Task Planner (davidseah.com)
ETP pads (Amazon.com)

(cc) photo by Liz West

read more: