pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro Technique: How It Works and Why You Should Try it

Do you feel like you get distracted too many times throughout the workday? Maybe you struggle with procrastination and find it difficult to work on a task for extended periods of time?

The Pomodoro technique is designed to help you stay focused and power through distractions.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a popular time management method developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo struggled to focus on his studies as a university student, so he started using a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to help himself concentrate.

He soon realized that he focused better in short bursts of work separated by even shorter breaks.

The Pomodoro method works like this: you set a countdown timer for 25 minutes and get to work. This one 25-minute unit of work is called a pomodoro.

When the timer rings, you take a 5-minute break. After completing your fourth pomodoro, you take a longer break of 20 or 30 minutes. Then, you start a new pomodoro.

Repeat the process of focus sessions separated by short breaks until you finish all the items on your to-do list.

Why does the Pomodoro technique work?

Here are some reasons why the Pomodoro technique might work for you:

  • Knowing that you only have 25 minutes to work on a task before having to take a break might instill a sense of urgency and make you work faster.

  • You’re more likely to focus in those 25 minutes because you know they’re followed by 5 minutes during which you can do something else or simply procrastinate.

  • It will force you to add more structure to your workday, which makes it less likely that you’ll get sidetracked.

  • It can seem daunting to get started on a big task, and that’s why a lot of people procrastinate. Deciding that you’ll work on it for just 25 minutes before taking a break makes it seem less intimidating.

  • Looking at your day in 25-minute blocks helps you limit open-ended work (such as research) to ensure you don’t spend more time than necessary on it.

Keep in mind that the Pomodoro technique might not be the best fit for you if you consistently work on tasks that require longer sessions of concentrated work.

You might also find that taking a break every 25 minutes interrupts your flow and does more harm than good, or that a 5-minute break is too short.

The Pomodoro technique does allow you to set the duration of work and break periods to whatever suits your specific needs, though.

How to use the Pomodoro technique

pomodoro technique

Before you master the Pomodoro technique, you’ll need to understand the basics. Check out our five-step process for completing your first pomodoro:

1. Choose a time tracking method

You can’t begin using the Pomodoro technique without a time tracking method. You may be tempted to overlook this step, but it’s worth taking the extra time to find something that works for your unique needs.

A kitchen timer worked for Cirillo, but that was decades ago. Nowadays, you can use dedicated pomodoro timers, or time tracking software like Hubstaff to track time to specific tasks and get real-time activity metrics along the way.

2. Decide on a single task to focus on

Since the Pomodoro technique limits you to working in 25-minute bursts, it’s best to focus on one task at a time.

If you have smaller tasks that will take less than 25 minutes to complete, you can try grouping them with similar tasks. If you have larger projects, break them into smaller pieces. Try to switch tasks as little as possible, though.

3. Set the timer to 25 minutes and start working

Set your manual timer or the time in your timer app to 25 minutes and start working on your first task. Try to put your phone on silent, turn off the TV, and stay off of time-wasting websites.

Resist the urge to switch tasks or procrastinate. You’ll be able to do the latter during the break.

4. Take a short 5-minute break

You’ve finished your first pomodoro. Now it’s time to reward yourself with a quick 5-minute break before you jump into the next one. You can use this time to browse the internet, respond to emails and texts, or do anything else that helps you recharge.

You might feel tempted to ride your momentum into the next pomodoro without taking a break. Resist the urge to race to the finish line.

These short breaks might not seem important in the early stages of using the Pomodoro technique, but they’ll prevent burnout moving forward.

5. After four pomodoros, take a 20-30 minute break

To prevent burnout, you should take a longer, 20-30 minute break after four completed pomodoros.

Bonus tip: What do you do in a 5-minute pomodoro break?

5 minute pomodoro break

Five minutes really isn’t that much time. Still, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish in such a short break. You can use this time for:

  • Taking a short walk

  • Cleaning up around the house

  • Taking a bathroom break

  • Checking social media

  • Listening to a song

  • Grabbing a snack

  • Exercise

If you still feel like five minutes isn’t enough time to do anything, then don’t.

The whole point of these breaks is to take time to recharge. Using every minute of your day to complete tasks adds up over time. Sometimes these five-minute breaks are best used for self-reflection and relaxation.

How to use Hubstaff as a pomodoro timer

Hubstaff application

If you’re looking for a way to time your pomodoros but want more features than a simple pomodoro timer offers, try Hubstaff.

Use it as a basic tracker by turning on the timer when you start working and stopping it when you're done. Or, you can accomplish a lot more if you put in the effort to add tasks to the app, track time by task, and schedule your breaks and work time accordingly.

Frequently asked questions

Practice the Pomodoro technique with Hubstaff

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