Can A Tomato Timer Make You More Productive?

Posted by Robert Clarke on
Can A Tomato Timer Make You More Productive?

Getting stuff done in the age of distraction is hard work. Smartphones, emails, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are all buzzing around us, sending notifications and making noises to steal our attention. 

Maybe a simple productivity hack from the 90's can help us keep on track in the modern world? 

This ''hack'' is called the 'Pomodoro Technique' - you may have heard of it. It is straightforward and practical. 

What Is The Pomodoro Technique?


The Pomodoro Technique was invented by entrepreneur and author Francesco Cirillo, who developed it in the 90's using one of those tomato timers. The method is simple and works especially well for large tasks that involve a lot of time at a desk. It divides the work into smaller periods and gives you breaks in between to reset and maintain optimal focus and freshness. 

The primary reasoning behind this technique is that it teaches your brain to be better at focusing on specific tasks and managing distractions. The breaks are spaced out enough to ensure you are continually refreshed and at your best mentally and creatively. 

Let us take a look on how to get started with it and how it works. 

How To Pomodoro?


First off, the dude who invented this wrote a book on it: The Pomodoro Technique. So if you are interested, pick that up. 

This technique is incredibly straightforward and easy to get started with. The only tools you need are a timer and something to write on - the timer on your phone and a piece of paper will do fine. 

The crux of how to start with this can be broken down into six easy steps. 

  1. Choose a task that needs to be accomplished (i.e., writing an essay, drafting a report for work, etc.)
  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes. 
  3. Work on the task, without distractions, until the timer rings. Then if successful, put a check on the piece of paper.
  4. After the timer rings, take a short break (usually 5 minutes) and grab a coffee or go for a walk. 
  5. Repeat steps 1-4.
  6. After completing 4 Pomodoros (100 minutes) take a longer break 20-30 minutes). 

To make this work you need to minimise distractions. Shut down your email, turn off your phone, close your office door. Do whatever it takes to ensure you focus on the particular task only for 25 minutes. 

Obviously, life is life, and things come up. If something comes up or a co-worker asks you to do something, stop the timer and say something like ''is it okay if I get to this in 10 minutes?''. If that's okay, write it down on the piece of paper and deal with it during your break and restart the timer. 

If it is super urgent, then you may have to pause the timer and come back to the task. 

Benefits Of the Pomodoro Technique? 


I have mentioned some of the benefits above but lets recap. Here is a list of the benefits you will see, implementing the Pomodoro technique in your life: 

  • It teaches you to work with time, not against it. 
  • More work getting done at a higher quality. 
  • Eliminates burnout. Due to the scheduled breaks, you won't end up running on fumes near the end of the day. 
  • You will focus and manage your distractions better. 
  • You will take control of your time and create a better work/life balance. 

Who Can benefit From This? 

A lot of people have used this technique effectively over the years, in a variety of positions. The official website lists the below people as those who will benefit most from it, but it can be used for a variety of different tasks - you can see it being beneficial for certain public service positions, for example. 
  • Writers 
  • Lawyers 
  • Parents 
  • Students 
  • Teachers 
  • Developers 
  • Managers 

Other Useful Info

If you want to read more on getting started with the Pomodoro, check out these links. 

Or check out the talk on it below, by Greg Head. 

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